Peter Jaconelli and Jimmy Savile: Latest Developments
The Peter Jaconelli and Jimmy Savile scandal continues to rumble on. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) Report into Surrey Police’s handling of an investigation in 2007 to 2009, into sexual offences committed by Jimmy Savile at Duncroft School in Surrey has been published. BBC Report here.
This and another interesting development recently have thrown some light on a current controversy in Scarborough.
Reform of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)
As an aside to the main thread of this article, following years of criticism of the IPCC from journalists, complainants, lawyers and its own members, for being ineffective and prejudiced against complainants in favour of the police. (Guardian report here) the IPCC has undergone change. On the 8th of January 2018 it changed its name to the Independent Office for Police Conduct and been reformed under the Policing and Crime Act 2017. Home Office statement giving full details here.
This has been part of an ongoing effort to reform the police and improve police discipline initiated by the Prime Minister when she was Home Secretary, following successive police misconduct scandals, in which North Yorkshire Police (NYP) featured prominently. NYE coverage here.
This of course is a source of great satisfaction to the North Yorks Enquirer. We broke the scandal of illegal transfers of funds to NYP Chief Officers. It was our investigation into the Peter Jaconelli and Jimmy Savile paedophile ring that forced the IPCC to quash its report exonerating North Yorkshire Police from any knowledge of Jimmy Savile’s offending. North Yorkshire Police subsequently admitted that Savile and Conservative Mayor Peter Jaconelli had in fact been committing serious offences in Scarborough and Whitby for years, with the full knowledge of the police, which simply ignored all of the complaints. This was arguably the worst investigative failure in the history of the IPCC.
I am very proud of the work the NYE did from 2012 onwards on exposing the Peter Jaconelli scandal, particularly the BBC Investigation we worked on.
This also exposed the evident inability of the IPCC to conduct an investigation into the most blatant example of police corruption in the history of policing in North Yorkshire. I hope this has had an impact on forcing reform of this ineffective and corrupt organisation. It certainly shows the importance of a public body being held to account by local citizen journalists.
However; I digress.
The IPCC report into the Surrey Police investigation into Jimmy Savile
Returning to the IPCC report on Surrey Police. The IPCC report found that a senior officer would have had a “case to answer” over his handling of the Jimmy Savile case and would have faced misconduct proceedings if he were still serving. Sadly, the officer concerned is now dead. His misconduct concerned a failure to pass information to another force concerning Savile’s offending in that force’s area. In a press comment to the North Yorks Enquirer, Surrey Police accepted the criticism of this officer and stated:
“The IPCC has conducted an investigation into Surrey Police’s handling of an investigation, Operation Ornament, carried out 2007 – 09, into sexual offences committed by Jimmy Savile at Duncroft School in Staines-Upon-Thames.
Whilst the enquiries in the original 2007-9 investigation pre-dated much of what we now know about Savile and his pattern of abuse, the Force has always accepted there are things which should have been done differently in Operation Ornament.
These were highlighted in a report Surrey Police published in 2013 and relevant organisational learning was implemented as a result.”
This, I felt, was a commendably open response – particularly as a senior police officer had been personally criticised by the IPCC.
Interestingly, the role played by the NYP Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) in the failure of Operation Ornament was not covered in the IPCC report. Possibly because it did not want to bring attention to its own investigative failures in that aspect of the investigation. Surrey Police’s Operation Ornament contacted NYP FIB to ascertain if it had any information on Savile. NYP FIB did not pass on any information about Savile. North Yorkshire Police must have been aware of Jaconelli’s offending – after all, everyone else in Scarborough was. In particular they did not pass on information that he was a known associate of Jaconelli and that both men had featured as persons of interest in a 2003 investigation in Scarborough. Contemporary Real Whitby article on this failure, which goes into greater detail, is here.
The Surrey Police investigation into Savile was the closest the police ever came to arresting Savile. The inexcusable failure by NYP to pass on information to another force (the same offence the senior officer in Surrey Police has now been censured for) ensured the failure of Operation Ornament and that the worst serial sex offender in the UK escaped justice.
The IPCC report has severely criticised two Surrey Police officers, although their names have been withheld and the Surrey statement is explicit that they accept the IPCCs criticism. Compare this to the response of NYP which although vaguely recognising past failures has not taken any action against those that were responsible for its failure to arrest Savile and Jaconelli, despite overwhelming evidence and large numbers of witnesses. IPCC Report into NYP and NYE Comment here.
SBC Countermeasures to Suppress the NYE
Clearly, the news that the leader of Scarborough Conservatives was a vicious paedophile would damage the reputation of the Conservative party in Scarborough. Obviously, a lot of people had known about Jaconelli and did not want the truth to come out, either to avoid difficult questions about their own roles in the scandal, or to avoid damage to the reputation of the Conservative Party, or both. Councillor Tom Fox, almost for instance, had served all of his police career in Scarborough before becoming a Councillor. Although he has never been censured in any investigation into Jaconelli, he has never provided an explanation as to why NYP failed to arrest him. Nor have Scarborough Conservatives ever issued an apology to Jaconelli’s victims for his crimes
The recent murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia (NYE tribute here) demonstrated that if you are an investigative journalist and you are doing your job properly, you will have enemies. Sometimes they will strike back. Likewise, when we broke the Jaconelli story (on the former Real Whitby internet news magazine website), we immediately became the subject of a series of aggressive countermeasures, some of which are sustained to this day.
- Contributors to the website were threatened with civil and criminal prosecution for harassment by SBC.
- SBC solicitor Lisa Dixon tried to have the website closed down.
- NYE journalist Nigel Ward was the subject of a false fraud allegation, which if proven, could have resulted in him losing his pension and going to jail.
- Conservative Councillor Tom Fox made a public statement advocating the use of “threat and retaliation” against NYE journalists. His public comments in full council can be seen here.
- SBC Officers started ignoring Freedom of Information requests and correspondence from NYE journalists. This has inhibited our ability to gather information and use it to hold the Council’s officers to account. In my view, this policy constitutes an attack on free speech and holding local politicians and officers to account to their electorate through scrutiny by a free press. This was raised most recently with the Leader of SBC, Councillor Derek Bastiman, in an open letter and I am still trying to resolve this issue with him.
Until the BBC documentary on Jaconelli and Savile, Jaconelli’s victims were ignored by SBC, most notably brave whistleblower Trevor Harrington, (who features in the BBC Jaconelli investigation above). However, we were not aware that SBC had initiated covert electronic surveillance of those persons within SBC whom it suspected of supporting the NYE investigation into Jaconelli.
Covert Surveillance of Emails by SBC
Then, on the 15th of December 2017, came former-Councillor Mike Ward’s article on interception of Councillor’s emails by Council Officers from 2012/13 onwards, the second in this chain of events.
Briefly, former-Councillor Ward revealed that when as a Councillor he started corresponding with NYE featured reporter Nigel Ward about getting SBC to recognise Jaconelli’s offending and his victim’s suffering. Councillor Ward was put under covert electronic surveillance and his emails intercepted. (He can be seen in this BBC programme confirming that Jaconelli was a paedophile and supporting the efforts to expose him). This surveillance was not put in place by SBC for the purpose of preventing vexatious complainants or harassment of councillors and Council employees. But to prevent cooperation and dialogue with the NYE, that ultimately revealed the existence of a major paedophile ring in Scarborough led by the prominent Conservative Councillor and Mayor, Peter Jaconelli.
I believe that this was the first use of interception of Councillors’ emails in 2012/13 and it was initiated to prevent coverage of the Peter Jaconelli.
Electronic surveillance of Councillors was very bravely raised in Council by Councillors Tony Randerson and Janet Jefferson.
To be clear, it appears that interception of Councillor’s emails was originally initiated in the first instance to prevent accurate criticism, in the public interest, of SBC and to prevent the Peter Jaconelli scandal from being revealed to the public.
Councillors are robust and able to deal with the occasional eccentric character. They do not need officers to do this for them in most cases.
Councillors are right to oppose surveillance of their email correspondence. It is not down to unelected officers to determine what Councillors can or cannot read about, e.g. the Marriott scandal. It is an intrusion and a conflict of interest, which could be perceived to be in furtherance of their own political ends, not the public interest.