Cllr Lindsay BURR – Another ‘Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free-Card’?
- an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, updating readers on the Rydale District Council (RDC) response to my Formal Request for an investigation into the discrepancies in the Register of Interests of Councillor Lindsay BURR [Ind.] – also a North Yorkshire County Councillor, where the same discrepancies have emerged in her Register of Interests.
Readers may have noticed my recent article “County & District Councillor’s Register Of Interests”, published on 22nd February 2015.
Before I proceed, one short paragraph from that article bears repetition:
- “NYCC’s Monitoring Officer Barry KHAN has acknowledged my request (indicating that “this is a matter solely for the police to investigate as it is not within the remit of the Standards Committee to investigate potentially criminal offences”).”
Moving on; I have since learned that the Monitoring Officer for Ryedale District Council (RDC) is one Anthony WINSHIP, with whom I have enjoyed an exchange of correspondence. Anthony takes a different view . . .
I will not bore readers with the entirety of my email alerting RDC to the discrepancies in Councillor Lindsay BURR’s Register of Interests, from which are absent two companies in which she holds an interest. Suffice it to say that the sharp end of my email to him reads:
- “I now lodge a Formal Request for a thoroughgoing and impartial investigation of Councillor Lindsay BURR’s Register of Interests, and where it is found that disclosable interests have not been duly declared, a Formal Complaint under the terms of the Councillor’s Code of Conduct and an immediate referral both to the RDC Standards Committee and to the North Yorkshire Police.”
To repeat; a Formal Request for an investigation, to be followed – only if the investigation exposes evidence – by a Formal Complaint and a referral to the North Yorkshire Police.
RDC Monitoring Officer Anthony WINSHIP has now provided his response to my Formal Request.
Either he did not understand the caveat expressed above, or he chooses not to do so. In any event, he has chosen to treat my request as a Formal Complaint – which it clearly was not, at least until an investigation had been undertaken, which it has not. I will reproduce his response in full presently, at the foot of this article.
But first let me draw readers attention to two of Anthony WINSHIP’s ill-judged remarks:
- (x) It is accepted that Intuitions Limited should have been disclosed on the register of interests since Councillor Burr is a remunerated director. Councillor Burr has therefore updated her register of interests form. [my emphasis]
“Should have been disclosed” and was not. Case closed. Guilty – as not charged.
In plain language, “You are absolutely right, Nigel – Councillor Lindsay BURR has broken the law”.
- “Having carefully considered your complaint the facts of this case do not warrant an investigation.” [prima facie evidence notwithstanding]
Taking the second of these first, can any reader explain to me why Anthony WINSHIP has interpreted my Formal Request for an investigation as a Formal Complaint? He surely is able to distinguish between the two.
In my view, he has done so to evade the rigours of a full investigation, so that he and the (so-called) Independent Person can boot the matter into the long grass – at least until after the elections. The facts of this case are a matter of public record. Anthony WINSHIP could investigate them in five minutes – as I did.
Yet (returning to the first of his remarks cited above), Anthony WINSHIP has been forced to concede that Councillor Lindsay BURR’s pecuniary interest in Intuitions Ltd should have been disclosed by her – and was not.
In plain language, she broke the law, and Anthony WINSHIP has admitted it.
However, Anthony WINSHIP concludes his indefensible decision to throw out my Formal Request (in WINSHIP-speak, “complaint”) by stating:
- “The reasons for this decision is that it is not considered to be an appropriate use of the District Councils resources to investigate this matter any further because the omissions have been remedied by updating the register of interests.
- Council Officers will not therefore be referring this case to North Yorkshire Police as you request.”
In my view, Anthony WINSHIP’s decision that, though he concedes that Councillor Lindsay BURR has indeed committed a criminal breach of the Localism Act 2011, the fact that she has since rectified her criminal omissions (I would submit, solely because I raised these queries – in good time for the coming elections) exonerates her criminality completely.
This is closely analogous to a motorist being pulled over for speeding – then escaping prosecution on the spurious grounds that, having now been stopped by the Police, the motorist is now stationary – and therefore no longer speeding at all!
I will leave you with the following tour de farce, quoted directly from Anthony WINSHIP’s response document:
- (vi) The format of the register of interests form adopted by Ryedale District Council on 12 July 2012 is one of the most detailed forms for any Council in the North Yorkshire area. If you compare it with other Councils in North Yorkshire you will see that Ryedale District Council has the highest level of disclosure. Ryedale District Council took this decision to seek to maintain the highest possible standards of ethical conduct.
One of “the highest possible standards of ethical conduct” that North Yorkshire has to offer, eh?
In my opinion – and it is, of course, merely an opinion (though who knows whether or not one may safely continue to presume that the laws of the land prevail and our rights to an opinion remain secure?) – RDC’s ethical standard is more like a licence to break the law with total impunity.
As for the remainder of North Yorkshire . . .
Finally, one wonders whether or not Councillor Lindsay BURR will take the view that, though Anthony WINSHIP’s white-wash passes for damage limitation, he may have inadvertently hindered her re-election prospects. Hmmm. This one could run and run.
Here follows Anthony WINSHIPS’s ‘11717 Final Draft.pdf’ – I expect the earlier versions were even more full of holes: