PFCC Julia Mulligan Fights and Bites Back
by TIM HICKS
Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner (PFCC) for North Yorkshire Julia Mulligan has recently announced that she was raped as a fifteen-year-old.
This has generated considerable press interest. For a typical example of the positive and sympathetic press exposure this provided to PFCC Mulligan, please see this piece in the Yorkshire Post by Rob Parsons.
The article quotes PFCC Mulligan as giving the following reasons for making this public announcement at this time:
“The North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner said she had been influenced by the recent #Metoo campaign to highlight the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment.
But she said part of the reason for her speaking out was the allegations of bullying behaviour made against her by her former staff, which were made public last year and upheld by the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel.
She said: “I know I am far from perfect, indeed I am my own harshest critic. After all, I have spent 36 years beating myself up for a situation that I still think today was partly of my own making. “I hate to ever think I had either intentionally or unintentionally made someone upset or feel unvalued, and for that I am deeply sorry.
“But those characterisations hurt. I can’t hide that – and they brought everything back I’ve hidden away for so long.”
Following a burst of positive and sympathetic publicity, this next piece was published by Chief Constable Winward on the North Yorkshire Police website:
Today, Julia Mulligan, the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, has spoken to the media revealing that she was a victim of a serious sexual crime in the past.
Commenting on the matter, Chief Constable Lisa Winward said:
“It takes courage for someone to speak out about an incident of sexual abuse or rape, as Julia has done today. She has our absolute support, on a personal level as a colleague, and at an organisational level as a police service.
“My message today to anyone who has been a victim of a sexual crime, whether it happened recently or in the past, is that the police are here to help. If you come forward and report the incident, we will provide you with support, investigate the crime, and do everything within our power to bring the offender to justice.
“That said, these matters are extremely personal, so our approach is very much a victim-centred one. In this case, the incident has been logged, but the Commissioner has been clear that she does not want to make an official report to the police, and does not want the matter investigated at this time. That is her personal choice, and we respect it completely.
“If you have been victim of a sexual crime and you don’t want to report it to the police, I would still urge you to seek professional support. You do not have to deal with it alone. In North Yorkshire you can contact Supporting Victims on 01609 643100 or www.supportingvictims.org Or you can contact Bridge House, the Sexual Assault Referral Centre, on 0330 223 0362 or www.bridgehousesarc.org . Bridge House provides free confidential support and practical help to anyone in North Yorkshire and York who has experienced sexual violence or abuse.”
Chief Constable Lisa Winward
Julia Fights Back
The timing of this announcement is interesting. There have recently been a series of issues relating to Police & Fire Commissioner Julia Mulligan:
- She has had allegations of bullying upheld against her by the North Yorkshire Police & Crime Panel (NYPCP).
- PFCC Mulligan is also currently under investigation by the NYPCP over additional allegations of similar misconduct
- She is under investigation by Conservative Party Headquarters for contravening its Code of Conduct for Elected Candidates. I have asked for a comment on this, but none has been forthcoming.
- PFCC Mulligan has been the subject of criticism in parliament over her personal style and the bullying allegations. It was also alleged that she was unfit to be the PFCC for North Yorkshire.
- There has recently been media criticism of her because one of her political supporters Mujeeb ur Rehman Bhutto transpired to be a convicted kidnapper, who organised the kidnapping of a man in Karachi and received the £56,000 ransom in Manchester.
- Then she was accused of getting one of the PFCC employees of deleting Mr Bhutto from her Facebook page, thereby generating more negative publicity.
- The NYE has analysed the three HM Inspectorate of Fire & Rescue Services Crime Data Integrity and PEEL assessments of North Yorkshire Police, which taken together reveal that the efficiency of North Yorkshire Police has deteriorated significantly.
- The NYE was the only local media outlet in North Yorkshire that covered the recent revelations by the BBC that North Yorkshire Police was the third worst force in the UK for recording crime and that 25% of crimes in North Yorkshire were not recorded. Article here.
- Her request for a 10% increase in the Council Tax was rejected.
Put simply, the PFCC is failing, attracting media criticism and is fighting for her political life.
The #Me Too Movement started in October 2017, so it seems strange to me that it should have motivated PFCC Mulligan to speak out now.
It is clear from Mrs Mulligan’s remarks to Rob Parsons that the major factor on which Mrs Mulligan has chosen to go public with this event now – as opposed to any time since she was appointed as Police & Crime Commissioner in 2012 – is the bullying allegations that were upheld against her recently.
So this personal announcement and the supportive statement by the Chief Constable has immediately grabbed the headlines of all the local and a lot of the national media, providing some much needed sympathetic and supportive news coverage for PFCC Mulligan in her hour of need.
Julia Bites Back
The NYE has been particularly effective in holding North Yorkshire Police and its Police Fire & Crime Commissioner to account. Witness the coverage on the NYE and the list of scandals it has exposed.
So it came as no surprise to me that, having launched her PR counter-offensive, PFCC Mulligan would retaliate for our coverage by simultaneously launching a pre-emptive strike to neutralise criticism from the NYE.
In the past, the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPFCC) has responded promptly and courteously to media enquiries from the NYE. On the 3rd January 2019, I received an e mail from a member of PFCC Mulligan’s staff telling me that the OPCC would no longer recognise me as a journalist.
As a freelance journalist, I have been writing on crime for the NYE for many years. So, by suddenly doing this, PFCC Mulligan appears to be using her position to punish the NYE for criticising her.
To quote Baroness Harris of Richmond’s criticism of PFCC Mulligan in the House of Lords:
“She (PFCC Mulligan) treats people who disagree with her with utter contempt.”
Typical behaviour for a bully and entirely consistent with the finding that PFCC Mulligan had indulged in “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient”.
It may be that the public statement about her rape when she was fifteen and the retaliatory action against the NYE are unconnected.
However, they appear to me to be part of a wider PR agenda to generate positive press coverage and suppress media criticism.
I will leave the reader to judge.
Chief Constable’s support for PFCC Mulligan
There is no mention of this alleged offence on the Police Fire & Crime Commissioner’s website and it relates to the PFCC’s personal life. So I do not understand why the Chief Constable felt the need to issue a statement singling out PFCC Mulligan for her courage.
Particularly as PFCC Mulligan has effectively vetoed any investigation or any attempt to arrest her alleged rapist by North Yorkshire Police.
Nor do I understand why this has been logged as an incident but not investigated.
The website statement and its positive remarks about Mrs Mulligan must have been cleared for publication with PFCC Mulligan beforehand. So this seems to me to smack of the Chief Constable generating positive personal publicity for the PFCC who, after all, is a Conservative politician.
I remember as a young man watching a TV series on the police and being shocked at the way a group of CID officers investigated a rape. In the episode “An allegation of rape” they dismissed the victim’s account, ridiculed and humiliated her, and let the rapist escape. This was then broadcasted on national TV, Thames Valley Police being completely oblivious to what they had done, or of how wrong it was.
The programme led to the way rape allegations were investigated in Britain being changed overnight. An excellent example of why it is so important that the police are subjected to oversight by the media. More information here.
I think that the British Police Service has made enormous strides in the way it investigates these crimes and the way victims are treated since then. In my opinion North Yorkshire Police has made a very commendable effort to improve its performance in the way it deals with this particularly despicable and damaging offence.
This is shown by the fact that North Yorkshire Police has the highest conviction rate for rape offences of any force. Statement here. (This has to read with caution, because it does not say that 25% of crimes in North Yorkshire are not recorded). Nevertheless it is indicative of a force that is doing its best to investigate rape crimes effectively. NYP’s recent advice on sex worker safety (here) and campaign to encourage sex workers to report crime (here) were innovative and ground breaking.
Rapists are often repeat offenders. The task of identifying and arresting serial rapists is made more difficult for the police if victims will not come forward, because this withholds evidence from the police.
In October 2018, West Yorkshire Police conducted a very skilful and well led investigation into serial rapist John Taylor. Taylor is now neutralised as a threat to women, because as a result of the investigation and the witnesses that had the courage to come forward, he has been put in prison for a full life term. Yorkshire Evening Post report here.
I was very impressed by the appeal issued after Taylor’s conviction by Detective Superintendent Jim Dunkerley, praising the courage and dignity of the victims in coming forward to give evidence. He went on to reassure rape victims and appealing for them to come forward and assist the police, so they can detect rapists and protect other women from them.
There is no legal duty on PFCC Mulligan or anyone else to report a crime or to help the police in their enquiries. I cannot help but admire women that come forward and face their rapist in court; particularly when they are under age.
Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan: Obtaining sympathetic press coverage
Chief Constable Winward and PFCC Mulligan were provided with a draft of this article and offered the opportunity of commenting, but chose not to do so.