Sunday 19th May 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer



  • an “In My View” article, sharing some opinions on SBC CEO Jim DILLON’s evasion (or do I mean ‘avoidance’?) of scrutiny.


Rhetorical question: Finding himself up a certain well-known creek without available means of propulsion, what can an embattled Chief Executive do?

If you happen to be Scarborough Borough Council Chief Executive Officer (and Head of Paid Service) Mr Jim DILLON, who is facing scrutiny at an Extraordinary Meeting of Full Council, mounted by a group of nine increasingly determined Councillors demanding to examine his conduct, the answer, it would seem, is to try to block them with distortion and defamation – and then run away to Skye for a fortnight’s fishing. Speed bonnie boat!

Far from being fobbed off and/or placated by these tactics, the Councillors concerned now see Mr DILLON’s attempt to obstruct their Constitutional right to meet as further evidence of just how seriously out of control the situation at SBC has become. The tail, having administered another wagging to the dog, has now gone fishing.

After having prevented one member from attending meetings, ‘Silent’ Jim is now attempting to prevent the entire Council from meeting.

This is fast becoming a battle of will over whether or not Councillors’ rights – and their mandate to represent the public and hold Council Officers to account (rights set out in law and intrinsic to the validity of the Council’s Constitution) – are subject to the whim of an omnipotent (he thinks), unaccountable and unelected CEO.

Jim DILLON is first to blink.

Make no mistake, this is the biggest scandal to hit Scarborough Borough Council since the High-Point Rendel fiasco when the then-CEO John TREBBLE and the then-Leader Councillor Eileen BOSOMWORTH took the big fall. This scandal is bigger even than SAVILE/JACONELLI, in that it is current – and a game-changer. Residents of Scarborough, Whitby and Filey have been screaming for change and now it is upon us.

Who rules? Councillors or Officers? This is an argument that no Councillor can afford to be caught on the wrong side of come election time, just seven months away. No-one wants to elect a yes-man.

Speaking of which, it is Mayor Joe PLANT whose responsibility it is to convene an Extraordinary Meeting when formally requisitioned by five or more Councillors (a minimum of five, so as to rule out frivolous attempts by rogue individuals) in accordance with the Constitution.

But, in the present case, there are nine Councillors fronting this widely-supported action. The permitted seven days notice expired with no word from the Mayor, who appears to have ‘bottled it’ and passed on the Requisition – not to his Deputy (Councillor Dilys CLUER, whose Green Group Leader Councillor Mark VESEY is one of the nine signatories) on grounds of conflicted interest – but to Mr DILLON, in whose thrall he crawls.

This comes as no surprise, because Mayor PLANT will be amongst the last to welcome penetrating questions in the public forum, preserved-on-video Extraordinary Council Meeting, because it was he, in his then-capacity as Tory Group Leader, who tried to use Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF’s disability as an excuse to evict her from the Conservative Group. Conflicted interests?

Councillor PLANT has been complicit in Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF’s banishment. His own treatment of her means that he should have recused himself from chairing the meeting and passed the baton to his Deputy so as to ensure transparency, probity and good standards. But that would have risked Councillor CLUER doing the right thing.

In evading arranging for the Extraordinary Meeting to be promptly scheduled, he has now well and truly implicated himself and his party in this shameful mess. I daresay the Enquirer will have much to report on Councillor PLANT and the culpability of the Conservative Group in this matter as the May 2019 local election looms.

But pass it over to Mr DILLON is exactly what the Mayor has done. So it would seem that Mr DILLON has now taken it upon himself to interpret the wording of the Constitution in such a perverse way as to determine that Councillors have no a right to call meetings and that the right make that decision resides solely with him – which it most certainly does not.

Considering that the sole purpose of the Extraordinary Meeting is scrutinise the legality of Mr DILLON’s actions, he has clearly acted ultra vires yet again. The obvious conflict of interests marks him as a thoroughly dishonourable man.

In the same way that Mayor PLANT’s personal involvement should have precluded him from taking the decision to schedule the Extraordinary Meeting,  equal or greater personal involvement should have precluded the Chief Executive from taking any part in the process. The same applies to the Monitoring Officer.

The very fact that Mr DILLON has now abused his position by blocking a properly called Extraordinary Meeting specifically about his own conduct is, in my view, a breach of standards and potential misconduct or – even gross misconduct.

And this is not the first time Mr. DILLON has abused his position. He did so to block Councillor Vanda INMAN’s questions on the same subject at Full Council on 14th May 2018:

Mr DILLON has been prohibiting Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF since the beginning of March 2018.

The manner in which the Councillors have been denied their right to convene an Extraordinary Meeting is both cowardly and morally reprehensible. It is beyond contempt.

So how did Mr DILLON react?

Firstly, he ‘invited’ signatories for a nice, cosy, one-on-one ‘chat’ in his office. It has been reported to me that he indicated to one Councillor that Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF was distressed by the prospect of such a public meeting; that she wanted it stopped at all costs; that she would find it embarrassing and demeaning. Strong, emotive stuff that – and who would want to distress a disabled Councillor who has just suffered the unbelievable injustice of being wrongly banished from Council meetings?

Surely it must be true, one may think. Surely the CEO would not propagate a lie in order to evade public scrutiny of his conduct?

Sadly for Mr DILLON, who is one of those Officers who expect Councillors to believe what they are told and not check the facts. The Enquirer does check the facts. The facts have been checked.

Councillor DONOHUE- MONCRIEFF, who attended a meeting with Mr DILLON on Wednesday 3rd October 2018, supported by her USDAW union representative, confirms that she has made no such statements to Mr DILLON or any other Officer of the Council.

In fact, Councillor DONOHUE- MONCRIEFF was unaware that the nine Councillors had petitioned the Mayor. She has made no statement on the subject whatsoever  for or against – other than to confirm that she would not find the Meeting distressing as it has nothing personally whatsoever to do with her. She has made no request to have the meeting blocked. Contrary to Mr DILLON’s spin, it is not even about her. It is purely a matter of Councillors questioning the legality of the Chief Executive’s act of prohibition. As stated on their Press Release:

  • “The fundamental democratic principle at stake is that it cannot be right that the voters’ choice can be nullified by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen.”

I doubt that Mr DILLON suffers from ‘selective reading disorder’, so I can only conclude that his actions are taken in full awareness of the consequences.

In any event, the blatant and thoroughly distasteful lies will not prevail.

Astonishingly (or perhaps not), Mr. DILLON, having announced that he was to take a fortnight’s leave, from noon yesterday (Thursday 4th October 2018), then proceeded to issue a statement after close-of-play,  having already left for his vacation.

His cowardly missive is reproduced below and is done so on advisement and in the public interest, and it should be clear that the CEO’s letter is, in the views of many, highly defamatory. The case for this opinion is set out below:

Download the PDF file DILLON_EMAIL_041018.

Mr DILLON’s statement of 6th June 2018, to which he refers in the highlighted passage, can be viewed here.

Well, the CEO’s remarks may seem reasonable and above board – to anyone who is not fully aware of all the circumstances.

Mr DILLON states that Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF has been prevented from attending meetings not because her behaviour has breached the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, but because she allegedly poses a serious threat to life and limb of all other Councillors and Council staff. It depicts her as being likely to leap out of the shadows to dispatch any visitor to the Town Hall foolish enough to cross her vengeful path. This is nonsense.

Mr DILLON is maintaining that this is not a Standards issue (the ONLY process with ANY powers to restrict a Councillor), rather it is one of Health & Safety – keeping everyone safe from the threat posed by a slightly-built, diminutive, five-foot two-inch Councillor.

On what basis has he attempted to justify this entirely disproportionate action? What can she possibly have done? How dangerous can she really be? Has she joined Al Qaeda? Must she be an IRA terrorist?

That is the conclusion that Mr. DILLON would have us embrace. His email can only provoke consternation amongst Councillors, as must have been his intention. But he has no choice but to exaggerate his allegations – otherwise the matter most definitely remains a mere  Standards issue, pure and simple, and the Harvey -v- Ledbury ruling clearly applies:

“Parliament clearly contemplated that a relevant authority may take “action” following a finding of non- compliance with a code, and does not seek to define or limit what action that may be. The abolition of the old regime carries with it, as Hickinbottom J observed, the abolition of the power to disqualify and suspend but otherwise the powers appear to be undefined, at least where the breach does not involve any impropriety in relation to pecuniary interests”.


“Putting the point more portentously, the argument that it would have been intra vires [for] the Council to impose on the applicant restrictions such as those which Mr Bryant purported to impose involves what in my judgment would be an unacceptable – indeed unlawful – restraint of the applicant’s right to perform her functions and duties as a democratically elected representative”.

N.B.: As soon as it becomes a matter for the Standards Committee, it slips right out of Mr DILLON’s hands.

So Mr DILLON has avoided stating what exactly it is that Councilor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF is alleged to have done – or have threatened to do, or herself been afraid she might do – to incur such draconian action, preferring instead to make unsubstantiated allegations that she poses a ‘clear and present danger’.

These are allegations that he has made in the past and now repeats with lurid embellishment. However, there would appear to have been no investigation or formal Risk Assessment, and certainly no finding that there exists any risk at all. We are left to surmise that the banishment may have been concocted amongst the Tory Leadership and the Senior Officers together, to prevent a disillusioned former Conservative Councillor from using the Council Chamber as a platform from which to make potentially damaging revelations.

But Mr, DILLON’s allegations, in my view, appear to constitute a libel, actionable under the terms of the Defamation Act 2013. If one elects to accuse anyone (Councillor or not) of posing a danger to those around them – a danger of such magnitude that the intensive security of a Council building in full lock-down cannot adequately contain or mitigate that danger – then one had better have conducted an impeccable application of due process; one had better have conducted a thorough investigation disclosing unequivocal evidence. One may be called upon to substantiate one’s allegations in a court of law.

As far as I can ascertain, there has been no fact-finding exercise. There has been no recorded or minuted hearing. No specific process has been approved and adopted by the Council. The accused has been offered no opportunity to refute the allegations, or to submit evidence in her defence. No. She has been tried, convicted and sentenced behind Ji, DILLON’s closed door – for being susceptible to the ravages of a mental illness which few of us can even imagine. James McGarvie DILLON – fount of compassion!

And the irony is . . .

All heart, eh?

In exercising the only authority the Council has claimed (see FOIA response, below), the CEO would still have to adhere to due process; any departure therefrom would be ultra vires. Even accepting a laggardly initial emergency response, the CEO has had 9 months in which to ensure that the Council is compliant with the technical requirements.

So what we have here is a completely autonomous action based on unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations, using authorisation that is applicable only to Paid Service – not to Councillors – and apparently serving a political bias. Given this particular Councillor’s disability, this amounts to discrimination – and is therefore unlawful. What a shabby mess.

A properly convened Extraordinary Meeting of Full Council at which the Leader and Cabinet are required to satisfy Councillors as to the legality of the CEO’s actions is thoroughly warranted even if one contends that the Harvey -v- Ledbury Judgment is not directly relevant – and that relevance is precisely what the righteous Councillors have sought to establish by calling the Extraordinary Meeting so that the Leader and his Cabinet Portfolio Holders can discover and explain to them – and, more importantly, to the public gallery and the video cameras – exactly why the CEO’s actions were lawful – and what they intend to do about it if they were not.

But the issue is, in fact, a great deal simpler than meets the eye:

If Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF’s conduct  is not addressable under the Councillors’ Code of Conduct (i.e. it is not about her conduct and is therefore not a Standards issue) then there is no authorisation anywhere in law to impose any sanction of any kind. Only a Standards Committee has power to sanction. No other body or individual. Not the Prime Minister. Not the Queen. Not the Pope. Only the Standards Committee. Not the CEO.

If prohibiting a Councillor from attending Meetings of Council and/or Committee, and from contacting Council Officers, is not a sanction, then what is it? Mr DILLON has actually stated that it is not a sanction.

Yet HICKINBOTTOM  J, in Heesom -v- Public Services Ombudsman for Wales [2014] EWHC 1504, ruled  that:

‘there being no common law right for an authority to impose sanctions that interfere with local democracy, on the abolition of these sanctions… a councillor in England can no longer be disqualified or suspended, sanctions being limited to (for example) a formal finding that (s)he has breached the code, formal censure, press or other appropriate publicity, and removal by the authority from executive and committee roles (and then subject to statutory and constitutional requirements)’.

But if we grant Mr DILLON that it is not a sanction, as he himself concedes, then we are entitled to ask what authority Mr DILLON believes he does have – and whether or not that authority extends to blocking a Councillor’s attendance at Council, etc. In a sense, that question has already been answered in the FOIA response cited below. Mr DILLON apparently relies on his supremacy in “corporate management and operational responsibility” matters. He is the big chief of Paid Service. His problem is that Councillors are not members of Paid Service. They are not employees and he is not their boss. It is the Officers of Paid Service who are the employees. The Councillors employ them. The Councillors employ Mr. DILLON – though few Councillors would appear to grasp that simple fact. In this way, the tail freely wags the dog.

Moving on, we might ask:

“If Mr DILLON is satisfied that his corporate powers under the Art.3/Sec.3/Prt.3 of the Constitution are sufficient to the task, why is the public paying for him to take legal advice not only internally (from the Council’s Director of Legal & Democratic Services, Mrs Lisa DIXON), but also externally from Bevan Brittan (over the name, presumably, of the former Deputy Monitoring Officer, David P. KITSON – no conflict there, we are intended to accept) and Wilkin Chapman – neither of whom work for peanuts?”

And what exactly is it that these learned solicitors were requested to advise upon? Was that advice for the Councillors – or was it for Mr DILLON to use as cover? Is there any record of this request for advice – or was this another unrecorded, unminuted chat over the telephone – Lisa DIXON style?

What was the nature of the request to these solicitors? Was it, “We have a Councillor running amok with a machete. What should I do?” Or perhaps, “We have a suicidal Councillor who has spoken to the media and revealed on Twitter truths that we did not want the public to know?” Probably not.

No, Mr DILLON. External legal opinion on such premises will certainly not contain the advice, “Ban her from coming to Council”.

In any case, it is not so much what the advice was. What will be far more significant is what the advice was about?

Because that is most definitely not protected by legal privilege or any confidentiality exemption. Councillors have an inalienable right to know.

Again, this is exactly what the nine Councillors wish to test.

As to what Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF herself says regarding the charges levelled against her, Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF has provided some insight. The charges seem to be:

  • writing to the Yorkshire Post;
  • contributing to the NY Enquirer (Ed: As have six other Councillors!);
  • criticising Officers and Members on Twitter;
  • allowing her condition to become so exacerbated, as a direct result of her treatment at the hands of the Tory Group that she became suicidal.

Of course, we must not overlook her two (very minor) public order offences, both of which were manifestations of her illness, dealt with by the Magistrates’ Court as misdemeanours carrying a nominal fine. Neither the Police, nor the Courts, nor the Health Service professionals,  nor the Council itself has made the case for her posing any danger to others. No-one sought to detain her for the safety of others (only of herself, under the Mental Health Act) and no-one has sought an injunction prohibiting her from approaching or entering  the Town Hall.

There was no case that could have, or would have, stood up in court – and if it does not stand up in court, Mr DILLON, it does not stand up in an Extraordinary Meeting of Full Council. Think about that.

Mr DILLON also made mention of the distress of others.

If anyone had reason to avoid contact with Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF, that would have to be Councillor Heather PHILLIPS [Con.]. It was she who presented herself as the traumatised victim/complainant against Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF when the latter broke down and bellowed “You don’t know! You don’t know!” in Councillor PHILLIPS’ ear. Is that such a crime from a woman in deep psychological crisis? Does it justify total lock-out? Intimidation? Slurs? Might a little compassion have been in order?

But  Councillor PHILLIPS, with the able assistance (and encouragement?) of SBC Leader Councillor Derek BASTIMAN [Con.] and his all but invisible spouse, Councillor Lynn BASTIMAN [Con.], pursued a prosecution for common assault. Handbags at dawn! It is difficult, at times, to ignore the stench of complicity.

And remember, Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF pleaded guilty and paid her fine (and, with it, her debt to society), hoping to recover her health and move on. Mr DILLON has been punishing her ever since over a trivial incident for which she has already paid the price in full, to the staisfaction of the Justice system.

Meanwhile, Councillor PHILLIPS – the poor, traumatised ‘victim’ whose fear of reprisals is alleged to be extreme – has been casually dropping in at Parish Councils in the Hertford ward (i.e. off her own patch) where Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF is known (and minuted) as a regular attendee, and seating herself in uncomfortable proximity to the latter. Provocation? Intimidation? Perhaps the Leader could tell us, having gone along with Councillor PHILLIPS’ ad hoc visits? Friendly witness? Bodyguard? Spin generator? Bogeyman?

If any Councillor should avoid a potentially volatile encounter, it must be the supposedly most-injured party – one of the architects of the situation.

How can it plausibly be maintained that the ‘victim’ is distressed and in mortal dread of physical danger when she has chosen of her own free will (?) to go out of her way to be in the immediate presence of the alleged source of that danger? Tell that to the Marines.

Either Councillor PHILLIPS is possessed of moral and physical courage of Himalayan proportions – or someone is lying.

Let us accept, for the moment, that Mr DILLON respects his Duty of Care to Councillors and Council Officers.

Perhaps he would like to explain, or have the Leader and the Cabinet explain on his behalf, how it is that this primary and fundamental Duty of Care does not extend to the Chairs, Councillors, Clerks and attending members of the public at the Parish Councils where (the record shows) Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF regularly attends (without donning a suicide-vest or toting a Kalashnikov).

It is ludicrous to maintain the fiction of a supposedly serious threat within fortress Town Hall, yet leave those SBC Councillors and Officers who attend Parish Councils, as well as the Officers and Councillors who comprise those Councils, exposed in a relatively confined space at Meetings where there is absolutely no security of any kind.

Clearly, either that constitutes to a massive incompetence on the part of Mr DILLON amounting to dereliction of duty – or no plausible threat exists. I will settle for the latter – but Mr DILLON cannot have both.

Despite this lengthy digression into the details of the DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF affair, it cannot be too strongly emphasised that this is not even about her, in particular, at all. Mr. DILLON invokes the DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF affair in a display of smoke and mirrors intended to divert attention away from the prime purpose of the legitimate demand for an Extraordinary Meeting, which the Councillors spelt out in their Press Release:

  • “The fundamental democratic principle at stake is that it cannot be right that the voters’ choice can be nullified by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen.”

As for Mr DILLON’s twaddle about “confidentiality and sensitivity”, this offers no impediment whatsoever to the convening of the Extraordinary Meeting. Councillors and Officers deal with confidential/sensitive information on a daily basis. There are provisions set out in the Constitution and in the Local Government Act(s) to invoke the exclusion of press and public from any part of a meeting that may include reference to exempt information. And Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF’s name need (indeed must) never be mentioned.

What is more, the Constitution provides no provision to deal with confidentiality/sensitivity by not meeting, not discussing and not questioning what has happened.

So this particular DILLON excuse serves only to demonstrate the depths of desperation in which the CEO now finds himself floundering.

Using the excuse of confidentiality/sensitivity as a justification to deny Councillors their right and purpose to meet and scrutinise the actions of the Head of Paid Service is so utterly contemptuous of the integrity of the Council and its members as to beggar belief. What an ignorant, arrogant man. He even told Councillor Tony RANDERSON [Lab.] that he had no intention of corresponding further on the subject. Quite how Mr DILLON squares that with the requirements of the Council’s Officers/Members Relations Protocol I cannot begin to imagine. It is certainly a flagrant breach of the NOLAN Principles.

Mr. DILLON has confidently asserted that security issues are outside the scope of Harvey -v- Ledbury Judgment and that he has to hand legal opinion to that effect. Opinion, be it noted. Nothing more than that. He has the opinions of Lisa DIXON and David KITSON (who have both been discredited, having been exposed for misinforming Full Council and/or the BBC), and Wilkin Chapman.

But these ‘opinions’ are top-trumped not only by the opinion of Richard CLAYTON, Queen’s Counsel, and governance specialist Jonathan GOOLDEN, whose view it is that:

  • “We, therefore, would underline that a local authority will be on risk if it tries to discipline Councillors outside the governance procedures laid down by the Localism Act.”

And even that is top-trumped by the fact that HHJ Mrs COCKERILL and MUNBY J have ruled contrary to Mr DILLON’s advisors’ chosen interpretation. Perhaps Mr DILLON’s external legal advisors should revisit the law – the  actual case-law Court Judgments – instead of wasting our money on mere opinion and commentary?

The following extract from Cardiff City Council’s Chief Legal Officer’s briefing to its members makes it quite clear that this point has, in fact, been fully considered in the HHJ Mrs COCKERILL Judgment:

(i) The council were not able to sanction Councillor Harvey other than going through the procedural safeguards of a Code of Conduct process. The council’s restrictions on Councillor Harvey (continued even after she was found not to have been in breach of the code) were an unlawful sanction;


(ii) The conduct of the grievance process through which the restrictions were imposed was unfair. 

  1. This case makes clear that a council cannot run a grievance procedure against a councillor alongside, or as an alternative to, a standards regime procedure, and that complaints regarding a councillor’s conduct have to be dealt with under the authority’s standards arrangements.
  2. It also provides a reminder that any process must be fair and in accordance with the principles of natural justice, i.e. the right to a fair hearing by an unbiased and impartial body requires that individuals should have been given prior notice of the allegations made against them, a fair opportunity to answer them, and the opportunity to present their own side of the story. The right to a fair hearing is also guaranteed by Art.6(1) European Convention on Human Rights, which complements the common law rather than replaces it.
  3.  It should be noted that the issue of Councillor Harvey’s conduct was not in dispute in this case, rather it was the process used to consider it.

[My emphasis]

No reasonable and responsible person could deny that Councillors have every right and reason to meet and to test these points; that is why they have called for the Extraordinary Meeting.

Cardiff City Council and SBC have taken opposing views over the interpretation of Judge Mrs COCKERILL’s Judgment. One of them is catastrophically wrong. If it is Cardiff, I hope they will be able to benefit from Mr DILLON’s superior wisdom and erudition. In his days at Ipswich and Forest Heath Councils, Mr. DILLON’s ‘area of expertise’ was Human Resources, for which he is presumably adequately qualified. Strange that he should need copious (and expensive) legal advice on a matter which falls squarely in his own special ‘area of competence’. Strange that he was unaware that his “overall corporate management and operational responsibility” does not extend to non-employees – like Councillors, for example. Or you and me. He thought he was God.

Mr DILLON’s contention (and that of any advice which he claims to have procured, but has refused to disclose to Councillor Tony RANDERSON [Lab.]) that the Harvey -v- Ledbury ruling does not apply is absurd. Judge Mrs COCKERILL’s Judgment is unequivocal in the ruling that Councillors’ conduct – even security considerations – can only be dealt with by the Standards Committee or, if criminal, by referral to the Police. Nothing in statute or case-law supports the ascendancy of Paid Service over Councillors.

All the foregoing understood, I have one more question to raise.

Is it the case that Mr DILLON is determined to avoid an Extraordinary Meeting at all costs because of a little-known (at least by Councillors) clause in the Local Government Act 1972?

100F Additional rights of access to documents for members of principal councils.

(1) Any document which is in the possession or under the control of a principal council and contains material relating to any business to be transacted at a meeting of the council or a committee or sub-committee of the council shall, subject to (2) to (2C)] below, be open to inspection by any member of the council.

Mr DILLON’s purported legal advice is very much “material relating to any business to be transacted” at the single Agenda Item  for the Extraordinary Meeting. A proper application of 100F(1) may threaten the CEO with exposure. It is reasonable to assume that Mr DILLON would not welcome that. Of course, 100F(2) negates 100F(1) if it appears to the ‘proper officer’ (that would be the Monitoring Officer, Lisa DIXON) that it discloses exempt information. But it does not. We may imagine what spin Mr DILLON will impart to that – his ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card. I wonder if he also imagines that he has the powers to order a Customs Inspector not to search his baggage?

As I sign off – and to cap it all – I am now learning that Mr DILLON has made another autonomous decision – this time, to re-instate Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF, before back-pedalling off to Skye. That strikes me as being rather like the bank robber returning the money, then expecting nothing more to be said about it. But that does not close the matter. Certainly not.

Yes, Mr DILLON, you are well and truly up the creek this time – and your are filling it with your own bullshit. Sooner or later, you will drown in it.

Why not throw in the towel now and preserve some vestige of honour – if not for yourself, then for the Borough of Scarborough?

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