Proscribed or Not?
by TIM HICKS
Regular readers of the NYE will be aware that Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire (PFCCNY) Zoë Metcalfe has applied the “Unreasonable Complainants” policy to me to justify ignoring requests for media comment from yours truly.
I assert that my correspondence is not unreasonable or offensive and that Commissioner Metcalfe has applied this policy to me as a pretext, to justify withholding information from the NYE’s readership it is entitled to know. Thereby preventing the media from holding her to account and evading questions she would prefer not to answer. I will be covering this in a separate article.
I have described this practice as “proscription”. This seems to me to be a very reasonable usage of the word. So I was very surprised to receive a letter from Commissioner Metcalfe issued through her Office and signed off by her Chief Executive, Mr Simon Dennis, complaining about this.
The NYE has a policy of always considering any complaints impartially and publishing them. In accordance with this policy, we have published the letter.
Objection from PFCC Metcalfe to describing her policy as “proscription”
The NYE Response
I have considered PFCC Metcalfe’s objections carefully and discussed them internally.
The term “proscription” has a wide range of meanings. The term originated in the Roman Empire where it included public identification and official condemnation of declared enemies of the state. However, its meaning has significantly changed and widened in modern usage.
- The act of proscribing.
- The state of being proscribed.
- An imposed restraint or restriction.
It is this latter meaning that I have used in my articles.
It appears to me that this is a valid and appropriate use of the word “proscribed” and I therefore respectfully disagree with Commissioner Metcalfe’s view.
I have discussed Commissioner Metcalfe’s letter with the NYE team and they concur with my view.
A few other observations:
The Joint Independent Audit Committee (JIAC) hearing to approve the Proscription of an NYE Journalist
The above letter states:
“Mr Hicks’ recent appeal against the Customer Contact Arrangement to the Joint Independent Audit Committee (a scrutiny body entirely independent of policing and the OPFCC) was rejected by the Committee”
This is a falsehood.
The grounds for my appeal were contained in my email of 20th April 2022 to Mr Stuart Green, Chair of the JIAC, here.
The paper below and attached papers concerning the appeal were submitted to the JIAC by Commissioner Metcalfe’s Office (OPFCC). (My comments in red)
As you can see, the grounds for the appeal were not put before the Committee in the paper presented by Commissioner Metcalfe’s Office, which was the main source of the Committee’s deliberation.
Whilst, to be fair, my email was in the various Committee papers attached to it, this was not, however, brought to its attention by Mr Dennis (or Mr Smith) and it was not therefore discussed by the Committee.
In short, it appears that the Commissioner has withheld information from the JIAC and submitted documentation to it which contains multiple material omissions.
The existence of an Independent and competent Audit Committee is a fundamental cornerstone of financial control. The JIAC does not have a secretariat of its own and is dependent on Commissioner Metcalfe’s Officers to act impartially and openly in its dealings with the Audit Committee.
By behaving in this way, Commissioner Metcalfe has undermined the Committee and financial control within the Office of the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner.
The real issue behind the Commissioner Metcalfe’s decision to proscribe the NYE
For some time I have been asking the following questions that Commissioner Metcalfe, Chief Constable Winward and the JAIC do not want to answer:
- Expense payments to Chief Police Officers for social and hobby activities
- Why were expense payments made to Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) Tim Madgwick for pursuing his private hobby activity of being a Board Member of the Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB)?
- Why did Chief Constable Maxwell have a trip to watch the Edinburgh Tattoo paid for by expenses?
- Why were expense payments made to Chief Constable Winward for the full cost of attending FBI National Academy Alumni Association (FBINAA) conferences in multiple European cities, which were not disclosed openly on the NYP website with an itinerary and training programme, appear to be of dubious training value and include time for (variously), sightseeing, shopping, networking and banquets?
- Expense payments to Chief Officers for flights and Hotels for which no explanation is given and which appear to be unconnected with their police duties
- What was the reason Chief Constable David Jones of North Yorkshire Police visited Northern Ireland in September 2014 and why was it charged to NYP through his expenses?
- What was the reason Chief Constable David Jones of North Yorkshire Police visited Northern Ireland on the 9thand 10th of May 2017 and why was it charged to NYP through his expenses?
- Why did DCC Madgwick have a day trip to Dublin paid for by expenses, for which no explanation is given and which appears to be unconnected with his police duties?
- Why Chief Constable Winward was paid expenses for staying in the Four Star Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel for the weekend commencing Friday 22nd September 2017 to attend an FBINAA conference that started on Monday the 25th of September (cost £354.48), when she should have booked one night for the 25thof September? (The current cost of a single room is £97.00).
- Misuse of police funds to finance legal action against journalists
- Why did PFCC Mulligan, Chief Constable Jones and Chief Executive Carter authorise hundreds of thousands of pounds to be spent on legal action against NYE journalists for criticising North Yorkshire Police over its failure to arrest Jimmy Savile and Peter Jaconelli?
- Why did PFCC Mulligan, Chief Constable Jones and Chief Executive Carter authorise hundreds of thousands of pounds to be spent on legal action against NYE journalists on behalf of individuals unconnected with the police, who had locked an old age pensioner and World War 2 veteran out of her home while she was ill abroad. Then tried to sell it from under her and keep the funds for themselves? (In my view an offence of fraud by abuse of position).
- Authorisation of expenditure of public funds finance legal action against NYE journalists by Chief Officers who had a conflict of interest. One of whom stood to benefit financially from the legal action
- Why did PFCC Mulligan, Chief Constable Jones and Chief Executive Carter authorised hundreds of thousands of pounds to be spent on legal action against NYE journalists, when both Ms Carter and Chief Constable Jones had conflicts of interest in this decision which they did not declare?
- Unauthorised payments of funds for a Conservative politician
- Why were police funds paid for a Conservative politician to finance legal action, when this was not authorised by a decision notice?
- Payments to members of staff and Chief Officers without adequate disclosure
- Why were expense payments made to Ms Joanna Carter the former Chief Executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire of £1,937.38 without disclosing what they are for?
- Why Chief Officer’s expenses from 2013 onwards were paid without adequate disclosure of what purpose the expenditure was for on the force website, whilst other forces in the UK give full disclosure?
- Why all Commissioner Mulligan’s expenses from 2016 onward were paid without adequate disclosure of what purpose the expenditure was for and do not comply with the Elected Local Policing Bodies (Specified Information Order) 2011 as amended?
It is clearly in the public interest for North Yorkshire taxpayers to have full disclosure so they can judge for themselves if the above expenditure of their money was appropriate. That is why the NYE is persistentlyraising this issue.
Yet to this day the NYE has never been able to obtain any answer from successive Chief Constables, the Officers involved, the JIAC, or from Successive Police, Fire & Crime Commissioners to these questions. None of these worthies will respond to correspondence or justify this expenditure.
The only response of the Commissioner has been to proscribe the journalist asking legitimate questions about these issues and holding the Commissioner to account.
Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire Zoë Metcalfe
Undermining financial controls by withholding information from the audit committee and proscribing a journalist, to
prevent the proper investigation of allegations of misuse of police funds by senior police officers and Conservative politicians.
Role of the JIAC
According to the Commissioner’s website, the JIAC comprises:
Stuart Green (Chair)
Roman Pronyszyn (Vice Chair)
I have written to the JIAC requesting answers to the above questions and that it set aside its approval of my proscription and the appeal is re-considered at the next meeting. Both, these requests were ignored.
This is particularly concerning given that – while there could well be an innocent explanation for the above issues – some of the expenditure appears at first glance to be fraudulent.
The conclusion is inescapably that the reason I have been proscribed is because Commissioner Metcalfe does not want the public to know how their money has been wasted and the JIAC has blindly supported her decision.
Proscribed or Not?
Returning to the Commissioner’s complaint and the question posed by the title of the article, I will leave the reader to determine if “proscription” is a valid description of Commissioner Metcalfe’s response to my concerns over the above expenditure.
I will also leave the reader to draw their own conclusions over the conduct of the appeal and if the members of the JIAC have conducted themselves fairly, professionally and with integrity.
Right of Reply
Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Metcalfe and the members of the JIAC were provided with a draft copy of this article and given the opportunity to comment.
If you are mentioned in this article and do not agree with the views expressed in it, or if you wish to correct any factual inaccuracy, please let me know using the firstname.lastname@example.org email address and your views and a correction will be published if appropriate.