“Alas, Poor Hebo! I Knew Him Well”
Open Letters to the present and (recent) past Leaders of Scarborough Borough Council by TIM HICKS – one in earnest, one in jest.
Open letter re: Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) policy towards the North Yorks Enquirer (NYE)
Sent: 19 May 2019 18:39
Cc: ‘Cllr.Derek Bastiman’
Subject: Open Letter re: Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) policy towards the North Yorks Enquirer (NYE)
Dear Councillor Siddons,
Open Letter re: Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) policy towards the North Yorks Enquirer (NYE)
I am writing to raise my concerns over SBC’s policy of intercepting my e mails to Councillors and refusing to respond to correspondence from me including Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, because I write for the NYE. The Legal and Democratic Services Department justifies this by asserting that the NYE is not a media outlet, but is a pressure group which operates with the intention of causing nuisance and distress to the Council, Councillors and Council employees.
First I would like to take this opportunity of congratulating you on your appointment as leader of Scarborough Borough Council. I would like to wish you and all of your colleagues well for their future leadership of the Borough. I have separately written to Councillor Bastiman congratulating him on his re-election and retaining his leadership of the Conservative Group and my e mail is below for your information..
Returning to SBC’s policy on myself and other NYE correspondents.
I have decided to correspond in an open letter because this is an ongoing issue that is in the public domain and I wish to raise it openly. I hope this is acceptable to you.
I consider that the position taken by SBC under the previous Conservative administration was perverse. The NYE is an internet news magazine that has been around for many years. Many local people, including Councillors and candidates for the recent elections have written articles for it. I believe this position was only adopted by the previous Conservative administration to supress legitimate free speech and scrutiny by a free press, because of the number of embarrassing scandals the NYE exposed.
Access to a free and independent press is vital in a democratic society. Here I quote from the “Declaration of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors”. (In full here). Which covers all the relevant issues:
“Journalists and other media actors in Europe are increasingly being harassed, intimidated, deprived of their liberty, physically attacked and even killed because of their investigative work, opinions or reporting. This alarming situation is not exclusively limited to professional journalists and other traditional media actors. …the scope of media actors has enlarged as a result of new forms of media in the digital age. Those at risk also include others who contribute to inform the public debate and persons performing journalistic activity or public watchdog functions.
The right to freedom of expression, to receive and impart information, ideas and opinions without interference is guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights it constitutes one of the fundamental principles upon which a democratic society is based. The public watchdog functions of the media are crucial for upholding these rights and for the protection of all other human rights. Misuse of power, corruption, discrimination, criminal activity or human rights violations have come to light as a direct result of the work of investigative journalists and other media actors. Making the facts known to the public is essential for redressing such situations and holding to account those responsible.
Journalists and others who perform public watchdog functions through the media are often in a vulnerable position vis-à-vis the public authorities or powerful interests groups because of their role in informing the public and provoking debate on issues of public interest. Obstacles created in order to hinder access to information of public interest may not only discourage journalists and other media actors from fulfilling their public watchdog role, but may also have negative effects on their safety and security.
Attacks against journalists and other media actors constitute particularly serious violations of human rights because they target not only individuals, but deprive others of their right to receive information, thus restricting public debate, which is at the very heart of pluralist democracy.
A favourable environment for public debate requires States to refrain from judicial intimidation by restricting the right of individuals to disclose information of public interest through arbitrary or disproportionate application of the law, in particular the criminal law provisions relating to defamation, national security or terrorism.”
The above guidance, was subscribed to by the British Government. It seems to me to specifically prohibit the policy the previous Conservative administration adopted. Only the Russian Government refused to subscribe to it. It therefore appears that the only areas in Europe that have rejected these principles are:
Obviously, this must be concerning. I would therefore ask that you abandon this policy and:
- Direct the SBC Legal and Democratic Services Department, and the IT Department to stop intercepting my e mails.
- Direct the SBC Legal and Democratic Services Department to withdraw its prohibition on responding to correspondence from me.
- Direct the SBC Legal and Democratic Services Department, and the IT Department to stop intercepting e mails from other contributors to the NYE.
- Direct the SBC Legal and Democratic Services Department to withdraw its prohibition on responding to correspondence from other contributors to the NYE.
I thank you in anticipation of your assistance in this request.
Sent: 19 May 2019 17:51
To: ‘Cllr.Derek Bastiman’
Subject: Council elections: Congratulations on your re-election. Well done on retaining the leadership of the Conservative Group
I hope you are well and do not mind me writing to you and addressing you by your first name, but I feel we have been corresponding for so long that I have come to know you as a friend.
I know that you will be deeply disappointed by the results of the recent Council elections. To cheer you up I am writing to congratulate you on retaining your seat and also the leadership of the Conservative Group on Scarborough Borough Council. Very well done, I was very relieved to read that you have retained your seat and the leadership.
Now things have died down a bit, I would like to commiserate and let you know that I was even more saddened by the results than you. They are a disaster for the NYE. All the characters we have been able to ridicule over the years that have given rise to some of our greatest photoons and best stories have gone. By way of a tribute, I hope you will not mind if I remind you of a few below:
Unquestionably Councillor John Nock who defended Peter Jaconelli on the basis that a) Jaconelli was only a hebephile, not a paedophile (hence he is known as “Hebo” in the NYE Newsroom), and b) he was only redistributing wealth by giving poor kids money for giving him a w*nk is the biggest loss. The NYE Newsteam used to hoot with laughter whenever we published an article or photoon on him.
I hope you will do everything you can to ensure he does not give up on politics and comes back onto the Council soon. But probably best not to slot him into a portfolio dealing with victims, children, crime, education, public relations, the media, or rational thought.
Superintendent Tom “Threat and Retaliation” Fox
Chief Superintendent (Retired) Tom Fox, led policing in Scarborough for most of Peter Jaconelli’s reign of terror, when it was common knowledge that he was abusing children, but failed to arrest him. Obviously our coverage of the Jaconelli scandal hit a big, big nerve with Scarborough Conservatives. I remember Tom completely losing control of himself and going OTT publicly during full Council. He ended up threatening the NYE with shock and awe (or more correctly “threat and retaliation”) for saying “what we like when we like”. We were also threatened with legal action by SBC. Needless to say, despite all of his huffing and puffing, nothing has happened and the NYE has gone from strength to strength.
Predictably he was rejected by the electorate, who appear to have retaliated for his threats on our behalf.
Tom Fox – Last Train to Retiresville
Tom “Sestip” Seston
Finally there was Tom Seston, who showed such a lot of promise. He could have been one of SBC Conservative’s comedy greats.
I was really hoping he would be elected, so we would have an assured stream of gaffs and insensitive remarks that would have kept us going with headlines for the next five years. We had a whole series of photoons planned and had intended to give him the nickname “sestip” to remind voters of his cesspit campaigning style. Unfortunately (but entirely predictably), his foul mouthed attacks on candidates Tim Thorne and Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff turned the electorate against him. Further, his antics appear to have destroyed the chances of the other Conservative candidate, who also failed to be elected.
In my opinion “Sestip” is to be congratulated on a very skilful and determined effort to single handedly destroy his own campaign, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and deliver Hunmanby Ward to the opposition on a platter. Had the Conservatives retained both seats, you might have been able to retain control of the Council.
As you can imagine, I am really disappointed he will not be on the Council. Still, best laid plans of mice and men, and all that. The electorate have spoken and I have to accept their decision. I can only hope that the Conservative Party will overlook “Sestip’s” abysmal performance and despicable treatment of one of the winning candidate (Councillor Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff – who gave him a terrible drubbing on the day – and wheel him out again at the next election.
Councillor Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff
Showed dignity, determination and political skill, to overcome a vicious campaign of abuse, retain her seat and see off Tom “Sestip” Seston.
The only good news
The results must have been a disappointment for you and I hope you are not downhearted. I am sure the constituency party will rally around. I hope Lisa Dixon, Tom Fox and Hebo will all be there to provide emotional support.
Please try and look on the bright side. You won’t have to spend the evenings with Lisa Dixon going through intercepted Councillor’s e mails any more, or e mailing me (and the Scarborough Electorate) alleging that the NYE is a campaign group formed with the intention of causing nuisance and distress to Councillors and Council employees.
Knowing you as I do I am sure that you will not sit back and accept defeat. I know you will continue to fly the flag for the Scarborough and Whitby Conservative Party in coalition with Labour. This will provide even greater opportunities. You will now be able to shoot both parties in the foot, not just the Conservatives.
For me, the only bright spots are that dear David Jeffels and yourself are still on the Council and you have retained your leadership of the Conservative Group, so we can continue to correspond.
With all best wishes for the future.