Friday 24th September 2021,
North Yorks Enquirer

LISA DIXON – RESIGN TODAY! (1)

LISA DIXON – RESIGN TODAY! (1)

  • an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, drawing a number of salient inferences from information forming part of the public record. A long article of surgical exactitude, featuring the facts behind the opinion.

~~~~~

BACKGROUND

Readers who have followed the North Yorks Enquirer since its inception in June 2014 (and before, when I, Tim THORNE and Tim HICKS were regular contributors to Glenn KILPATRICK’s original Real Whitby Magazine), will recall that SBC Monitoring Officer Lisa DIXON (the lady wearing the furtive expression in the above photo), in the early days of her appointment, was first caught out LYING to the BBC Inside Out documentary production team, who showed that she had lied when she denied having attempted to have the Real Whitby Magazine “shut down”:

Lisa DIXON wrote to the Real Whitby Magazine ISP (internet Service Provider), stating:

“Scarborough Borough Council respectfully request that you act to terminate the website hosting service provided to Real Whitby…”

[The word “terminate”  is highlighted by me.]

And when button-holed by the Beeb, Mrs DIXON had the audacity to claim (in a Council Media Release):

“This was not an attempt to “shut down” Real Whitby…”

Not much, it wasn’t!

Since then, Mrs DIXON’s predilection for being ‘economical with the truth’ has been exposed many times in the Enquirer – which is the sole plausible reason that we investigators having been unlawfully blocked from emailing any SBC email account (curiously, my recent communications have captured Officers’ attention almost instantaneously).

But a number of Councillors have expressed the view – quite rightly, I believe – that it was this first public humiliation by the BBC which first ignited Mrs DIXON’s personal and acutely unprofessional grudge against the Enquirer.

  • Mike GREENE, take note. See if you can figure out why this Council is not even a mirage of what it could – and should – be.

The two Tims and I were subsequently falsely accused of having been “threatening and abusive” – but when I finally extracted from SBC every last document with my name on it, via a Subject Access Request (my response was withheld for well over a year, though the legislation permits only one month), I found what I expected – not one solitary example of me having written a single email in anything other than my customarily courteous and reasonable style.

It is noteworthy that when the North Yorkshire Police invited SBC to join the 9 Claimants who failed in their attempt to sue me for harassment (at NYP’s expense – which is to say, at the public’s expense), Mrs DIXON could come up with no takers – i.e. nobody at SBC could produce a single shred of evidence against me.

If Mrs DIXON wishes to examine flagrant examples of a current Councillor being “threatening and abusive”, she need look no further than the disgraceful conduct evinced by a Councillor over the Christmas period. Perhaps I should ask Tim THORNE to publish an audio recording reminiscent of a horror movie soundtrack? That would give Mrs DIXON an insight into “threatening and abusive”.

Times have moved on and I am glad to report that more and more Councillors are now taking heed of Enquirer exposés. The conduct of rogue Officers has been so forensically detailed that some of the the more experienced Councillors are at last recognising that the tail has indeed been wagging the dog – as we of the Enquirer have been demonstrating for years.

So, after a lengthy pre-amble, this article sets out to underline another prime example of overt and thoroughly unprofessional disingenuousness.

The ARGOS ‘Leak’

Readers may be interested in the following paper-trail of information relating to the alleged ‘leak’ of the document pertaining to the SBC Leader’s flagship ARGOS regeneration proposal, disclosed in the public interest by NY Enquirer editor Tim THORNE in his article “Not for Publication”, published on 15th July 2019.

On 25th July 2019, SBC’s Audit Committee met and Mrs DIXON told members that the ‘leak’ of the ARGOS document was under Police investigation. I quote Mrs DIXON’s sensationalist fear-mongering from the ratifed Minutes:

More generally in terms of data protection, the Monitoring Officer commented that a very serious data breach of a confidential document concerning the proposed town centre regeneration in Eastborough[sic] was currently under investigation by both Internal Audit and the North Yorkshire Police cyber-crime team. Such a breach may constitute the offence of misconduct in public office which carried a maximum sentenceof life imprisonment.

On 2nd August 2019, Local Government Lawyer magazine published an article confirming this, entitled “Leak of £22m council regeneration scheme documents referred to police”, which opened as follows:

North Yorkshire Police are investigating a leak of Council documents which revealed plans by Scarborough Borough Council to borrow £22 million to fund a regeneration scheme. 

On 25th [July 2019] Scarborough’s Legal Director Lisa Dixon told the council’s audit committee that an investigation was taking place into the leak of the documents which could amount to misconduct in public office.

These remarks followed hard on the heels of an email from SBC Audit & Fraud and Data Protection Officer Alison JOHNSON (who readers may remember from her starring role in the Ben MARRIOTT Tribunal Hearing in which His Honour Judge Humphrey FORREST described SBC as having perpetrated “the biggest whitewash” he had ever encountered).

Ms JOHNSON’s email read:

From: Alison Johnson <Alison.Johnson@scarborough.gov.uk>
Sent: 24 July 2019 11:37
To: Noticeboard <Noticeboard@scarborough.gov.uk>
Subject: *** IMPORTANT*** Data Protection and GDPR
Importance: High Sensitivity: Confidential

Good morning all,

In light of recent events, may I please take this opportunity to remind everyone of their responsibilities when dealing with personal data that is either collected, collated or processed by SBC, either as an organisation or yourselves as individuals on behalf of the Council.

Please note that it is not acceptable to forward any Council related data to your own home email address.  ICT work tirelessly trying to ensure that all our data is encrypted and secured to the highest level.  Please ensure that all emails are contained within this secure network area.

Could I also please remind new Members that you need to ensure your mandatory GDPR on-line training is completed.  We had an introductory presentation relating to this which was very well attended, but there are still a number of Members who have not completed the training.  

It is my responsibility as Data Protection Officer to ensure that we take potential breaches (either accidental or malicious) very seriously, and please be assured that we work closely with the ICO in all instances where it is considered that a breach may have occurred. In addition, we also have the support of the Police who have offered their assistance when and if required as part of our multi-agency  agreement and continuous working relationship should a wider investigation be required.

Please contact me directly if you have any queries, or require any assistance or further clarification.

Alison Johnson

Audit and Fraud Manager/Data Protection Officer

Interestingly, it was on 30th July 2019 that Lisa DIXON (and all Councillors) received the following email – triggered, no doubt, by the above ‘advice’ – and the attendant media coverage of the ARGOS ‘leak’:

From: Cllr.Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff
Sent: 30 July 2019 15:41
To: Lisa Dixon <Lisa.Dixon@scarborough.gov.uk>
Cc: Noticeboard <Noticeboard@scarborough.gov.uk>; Councillors Email Group <CouncillorsDG@scarborough.gov.uk>; Alison Johnson <Alison.Johnson@scarborough.gov.uk>; Wendy Trainor <Wendy.Trainor@scarborough.gov.uk>; Carol Rehill <Carol.Rehill@scarborough.gov.uk>
Subject: Re: *** IMPORTANT*** Data Protection and GDPR
Sensitivity: Confidential

Hi Lisa

How is that Police investigation you announced to the Audit Committee going?

https://www.thescarboroughnews.co.uk/news/scarborough-s-22m-loan-documents-leak-police-say-we-re-not-investigating-1-9905852

You threatened Councillors and Staff with life imprisonment on a charge that is know as one of the most difficult ones to prosecute as the threshold is so high.

An apology is the least that is required.

Regards

Cllr. Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff
Hunmanby Ward Representative

Mrs DIXON promptly responded, apology conspicuous by its absence:

Cllr Donohue-Moncrieff

The position has not changed from that reported to the Audit Committee and the advice contained in the emails issued by Alison Johnson and myself remains unaltered.

Kind regards

Lisa Dixon
Director
Scarborough Borough Council

So the extravagant threat of life imprisonment was still alive and well, though patently absurd.

Shortly after these exchanges, on 30th July 2019, Local Democracy Reporting Services’ Carl GAVAGHAN had done his homework and checked Mrs DIXON’s claims with the North Yorkshire Police. In his Scarborough News article Scarborough’s £22M loan documents leak: Police say we’re NOT investigating, Carl wrote:

The authority’s legal director Lisa Dixon last week said the force’s cybercrime unit was taking on the matter after confidential documents showing the council would borrow £22m to fund a town centre regeneration scheme appeared online. 

When asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, North Yorkshire Police today said it had not launched a criminal investigation.

[The word “not”  in the final sentence is highlighted by me, for reasons which will soon become apparent]

Then, on 1st August 2019, Carl GAVAGHAN again reported, in an article entitled “Police now say they ARE investigating the leak of Scarborough Council documents about £22m loan” – a curious development indeed; NYP had apparently performed a classic U-turn:

Chief Inspector Rachel Wood, operations commander for Scarborough and Ryedale, said:

“Further to our statement [on Tuesday (30th July 2019)] I would like to clarify that, in fact, North Yorkshire Police have opened an investigation into the matters raised to us by Scarborough Borough Council. “ 

“The investigation is at an early stage and we are still in the process of gathering relevant information and evidence.”

However, to my personal knowledge, neither I, Tim THORNE, Tim HICKS nor any other regular contributor to the Enquirer  has ever been approached by the North Yorkshire Police on this subject. 

Eighteen months have since elapsed . . . and still no arrest, prosecution or conviction.

  • Question: What kind of a cockamamy investigations would exclude interviewing the personnel associated with the organ on which the ‘leaked’ document was made public?
  • Answer: An internal SBC invstigation and a North Yorkshire Police investigation.

Fast Forward 11 Months

Eleven months later, in my 4th June 2020 article “ARGOS, Lies & Video”, I included the following paragraph:

On the subject of the alleged NYP investigation – which, Councillors have been informed, behind closed doors, is still in progress and “whoever the culprit turns out to be will go to jail” – nothing further has been heard. I can confirm that neither I nor Enquirer editor Tim THORNE has been questioned. I do not know of anyone who has. And yet it was the Enquirer that published the ‘leaked’ document and it was on these pages that many Councillors saw it for the first time. There is transparency for you. 

[The highlighted word “culprit” (above) was not highlighted in the original text. I highlight it now for a purpose which will soon become apparent.]

Two-and-a-half weeks later, on 21st June 2020, in my article “ARGOS Decision faces 2 ‘Call-Ins’”, the following paragraphs also contained the word “culprit” (highlighted here but not in the original):

In July 2019, as a matter of the utmost urgency, Councillors were (I want to say) ‘rail-roaded’ into supporting a resolution to borrow £22 million from the Public Loans Board, over forty years, for the purposes of purchasing and demolishing the comatose ARGOS building and replacing it with 200 student mini-flats, a handful of retail units and a ‘Town Square’.

I say ‘railroaded’ because members were given the most minimal opportunity to study the top secret Report; indeed, some laggards saw it first when it was published on the Enquirer by editor Tim THORNE following an allegedly illegal ‘leak’, allegedly still under investigation by the North Yorkshire Police. (Yes, yes, Lisa – the ‘culprit’ will end up in jail. I bet you would not say that if you knew who the ‘culprit’ was.)

In an email of mine to Monitoring Officer Mrs Lisa DIXON, on 18th December 2020, I included the following

In the interests of openness and transparency, I formally request to be informed as to whether or not the North Yorkshire Police is still (or ever was, in which case; date of conclusion of investigation, please) investigating the infamous ‘leak’ of the ARGOS papers in July 2019. It may be that I could be of assistance. Indeed, I am surprised that nobody has ever asked me. 

[The highlighted word “leak” (above) was not highlighted in the original text. I highlight it now for a purpose which will soon become apparent. The underlined sentence is also of interest.]

Mrs DIXON – readers will perhaps be surprised to learn – has emailed me on a number of occasions since then, but she has not addressed my formal request – even though I clearly indicated that I may be able to assist. If asked, I shall (of course) tell the truth.

In my follow-up email to Mrs DIXON on 22nd December 2020, I reminded her of my request in the following terms: 

You have not addressed the matter of the alleged Police investigation into the ‘leak’ of the ARGOS papers. This, too, concerns conduct that falls outwith the strictures of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct. When do you propose to address this matter? Or would you prefer to refer me directly to the NYP Officer who has been pursuing the investigation?

[Again, the word “leak” was not highlighted in my original email. And again the underlined passage is of interest.]

Mrs DIXON continues to ignore my request for this information, even though it is abundantly clear that the Enquirer (obviously, as recipient of the ostensibly ‘leaked’ document) may hold compelling evidence of the source of the ‘leak’.

It is reasonable to conclude that Mrs DIXON, either of her own inititative or under direct instruction (and there is only CEO Mike GREENE who has the authority to instruct her), does not want to know who perpetrated the ‘leak’.

Readers will by now have a good idea where this is heading. Two simple questions bring the issue into sharp focus.

Before posing them, I refer readers once more to Enquirer Editor Tim THORNE’s article “Not for Publication”, published on 15th July 2019, in which the ‘leaked’ ARGOS document was disclosed to the public for the first time.

1) Why has Mrs DIXON made so much of having reported the ARGOS ‘leak’ to the North Yorkshire Police – and even issued a thinly-veiled threat to members that the ‘culprit’ faced a potential lifelong prison sentence – and yet has ignored my offers to be of service, either to the Council or to the North Yorkshire Police? 

2) Could it be that Mrs DIXON, for reasons yet to be explained, is protecting the ‘culprit’?

Now, why would that be?

It is arguably the Monitoring Officer’s statutory duty to defend and uphold the incumbent administration at all costs.

However, when – by Mrs DIXON’s own assertion (namely, that a “criminal offence of misconduct in public office which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment” had taken place) – surely Mrs DIXON had a duty (Article 2, above) to report to the North Yorkshire Police any further evidence supporting her complaint to the Police in July 2019 if, and only if, the Local Government Commissioner had previously carried out an investigation?

Indeed, in the absence of an investigation by the Local Government Commissioner, the question now arises: has Mrs DIXON, in virtue of her perceived disregard of Article 2, herself committed the “criminal offence of misconduct in public office which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment”?

To answer this question, I refer readers to the opinion of eminent barrister Mr Quentin HUNT:

Download the PDF file QUENTIN_HUNT_Opinion.

Here is the rub:

Monitoring Officer Lisa DIXON was first aware of the ‘leak’ NOT EARLIER than the day of publication – Monday 15th July 2019.

Monitoring Officer Lisa DIXON first ‘threatened’ members with life imprisonment (to use Councillor DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF’s terminology) NOT LATER than Thursday 25th July 2019.

Does Mrs DIXON intend to rely on the absurd defence that the Local Government Commissioner had performed his investigation during the intervening nine days (see Article 2, above) – thus bestowing upon her the authority to report the matter?

Do you believe that happened? When SBC Legal is so inept that it does not even grasp the distinction between a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) and an Off-Street Parking Order (OSPO)?

As the title of this article suggests, I have others articles in preparation addressing, inter alia, false statements in court documents. I await legal opinion as to whether or not these false statements amount to Perjury, Contempt of Court or some other criminal offence (e.g. Misconduct in Public Office) – or merit just a metaphorical slap on the wrist (if you happen to be a public servant, suitably protected and invariably above the law).

In conclusion, I am reminded of the old burlesque classic “When Granny Got her Treasures Caught in the Mangle”. I think it was ‘treasures’.

I rather suspect that some of our best Councillors (and prominent local business people) are queuing up to crank the handle . . .

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