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North Yorks Enquirer

Eskdale Conspiracy: An Open Letter to ‘The Man’

Eskdale Conspiracy: An Open Letter to ‘The Man’

  • Today’s “In My View” column shares with readers an “OPEN LETTER” from NIGEL WARD to Mr Barry KHAN (Head of Legal & Democratic Services at our Local Education Authority, North Yorkshire County Council, where he also fills the position of Monitoring Officer), expressing some views and asking some pertinent questions – the answers to which may already be known (but remain, for the moment, unpublished).


Mr Barry KHAN – Head of Legal & Democratic Services and Monitoring Officer – NYCC



Hello, again! Some months have passed since we enjoyed a most amicable exchange in the period immediately following your appointment. Please accept my apologies; I have been remiss in not finding the moment to refresh our friendship, due to the many calls on my time working voluntarily in the public interest.

And now to business:

You are aware that the national publicity surrounding the unauthorised actions of Eskdale School Headteacher Sue WHELAN has generated deep concern in the Whitby catchment area, and beyond.

The North Yorks Enquirer has attempted to keep readers apprised of the ‘action’:

Our resident satirical cartoonist CodHead, who always prefers a picture – even in black-and-white – to a thousand words, has commented in his/her preferred medium, thus:


Like many observers, CodHead clearly suspects a degree of orchestration, or manipulation – as you prefer.

(For the avoidance of doubt, I am not CodHead).

Even the few facts reported in the national press point to a politicised conspiracy to sweep aside legitimate local needs and desires in pursuit of a predetermined strategy to phase out Eskdale School, with a view to liquidating an asset (building land with an estimated market value of around £4M), whilst simultaneously eliminating an obstacle – Councillor Mike WARD.

I am regretful to learn that your colleague Pete DWYER, Corporate Director for Children & Young People’s Services, is affronted by my forthright criticism. Nevertheless, it is unhelpful of him to disregard my recent correspondence. He has not acknowledged my formal Corporate Complaint against him (and against Chief Executive Officer Richard FLINTON), and neither have you. I would appreciate your acknowledgement of my formal Corporate Complaints, by return, please.  And I look forward to receiving some suggested dates for interview; I hope you will be conducting the investigations yourself?

And Pete DWYER really must comply with the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000; I rely on you to make that clear to him. I wish to peruse the requested correspondence. It would be foolish of the Council to withhold it; that would serve only to exacerbate suspicion.

As you may imagine, exposing wrongdoing in public bodies is demanding work. However, it has its compensations; one of which is the response it draws from ordinary members of the public who have fallen foul of institutionalised intimidation and bullying. They know that the odds are stacked against them – unfamiliar as they often are with the nuances of Council-speak and the frustrations of unnecessarily protracted correspondence.

Such good people look to organs like the North Yorks Enquirer to investigate injustices. They come from many walks of life and they come bearing salient information – private knowledge, photographs, recorded conversations, photo-copied documents – sometimes sufficient to make a case. Sometimes not; but invariably suggestive of further lines of enquiry.

You will, I am sure, appreciate that this is why my knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the forced resignation of the former (?) Chair of the Eskdale School Board of Governors, Councillor Mike WARD, vastly exceeds that of Jane LEWIS, the ‘Independent Investigator’ and Haroon ‘Harry’ RASHID, Senior Human Resources Advisor of the Local Education Authority’s Children & Young People’s Services Team at NYCC.

I am waiting to hear from Jane LEWIS with some suggested dates for interview(s). Perhaps you might facilitate that? Thank you.

But enough of this general preamble: I come now to the substantive purpose of my email;

I am eager (and I feel sure that the people of Whitby are equally eager) to receive your response to the following requests for comment:

  • Please confirm or deny, on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council, my information that on 10th Friday October 2014 (the day that Eskdale School Headteacher Sue WHELAN broached with Mike WARD her perception of the necessity for him to resign his position as Chair of the Board of Governors, pursuant to the announcement of his membership of the United Kingdom Independent Party), County Hall entertained a visit from the Caedmon College Headteacher Mr Keith PRYTHERCH.
  • Please confirm or deny, on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council, my information that on 10th Friday October 2014, Eskdale School Headteacher Sue WHELAN was provided with advice by County Hall, over the  telephone, on her actions pursuant to her perception of the necessity for Mike WARD to resign his position as Chair of the Board of Governors.
  • Please confirm or deny, on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council, that plans for the closure of Eskdale School, and the subsequent sale of the site for development, have been mooted, documented and remain extant.

Without wishing in any way to impugn your integrity, Barry, I would be grateful for sight of compelling evidence in support of the first two of your responses, please, in the form of the correspondence record between Keith PRYTHERCH and County Hall, Keith PRYTHERCH and Sue WHELAN, and Sue WHELAN and County Hall, including all emails, SMS text messages, faxes, internal memos, recorded messages (voice-mails/answer-machine-messages – as well as the County Hall Visitor log), contemporaneous notes of telephone/mobile/Cloud conversations, contemporaneous notes of ‘live’ conversations – in short, all communications of all types between the named parties – on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th October 2014 – as well as the County Hall Visitor Log.

In the case of the third of my requests (plans for the school), please support your response with all relevant documentation.

Please do not insult me by providing three unsubstantiated denials, Barry.

Collectively, your responses will be read, digested and presented to the wider public, through the medium of the North Yorks Enquirer – alongside other testimony, for ease of comparison. Readers know that I publish only that which I can prove to be true; that is why I have never been sued for defamation.

You may, of course, elect to deal with these matters under the terms of the FOIA (with necessary redactions, of course) – in which case, please acknowledge my requests accordingly and provide designated FOIA numbers for each of the three.

More transparent, by far, would be a prompt and exhaustive provision of the requested material. Thank you.

At issue here, as I am sure you will appreciate, is a simple matter of fairness, honesty and transparency.

The widely-held view that Sue WHELAN’s position as Headteacher at Eskdale School is wholly untenable may perhaps be ameliorated by the knowledge that (if such was the case) she was not the ‘prime mover’ and therefore not solely accountable for any putative breaches of the HRA or the EA, as her present conspicuous silence bespeaks.

A month-and-a-half has already elapsed. Perhaps we can now work together to end the uncertainty that throws its shadow over daily school life. I hope so – for everyone’s sake.

I look forward to publishing your prompt and transparent reply.

Yours, with very kind regards,


Whitby, North Yorkshire, 28th November 2014.


Post Scriptum:

It is interesting to note that the Council-dependent local rag is unable (or unwilling) to discern the truth behind the corporate lies – much less, publish it – preferring instead to run a sycophantic two-page Sue WHELAN blandishment.

The North Yorks Enquirer most definitely can discern the truth – and most definitely will publish it.

And woe betide the misguided paid public servant who dares to lie to his/her masters.

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