SAVILE/JACONELLI Investigation – Cllr Tom Fox Our Biggest Fan!
- an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, reporting on SBC’s latest attempt to stifle criticism and to protect Councillors and Officers from investigation.
Homing In On The Savile/Jaconelli Cover-Up
There is a pot coming to the boil in Scarborough Town Hall. It is building a head of steam. The lid is rattling and sulphurous fumes of duplicity are billowing forth from the rim of the lid. What can be the cause of so much tension and paranoia – and such determination to stifle freedom of expression and the freedom of the press/public to scrutinise and, where necessary, criticise elements within the Council when there is prima facie evidence of wrong-doing?
In February 2013, Trevor HARRINGTON, a Scarborough man now living in Australia, wrote to SBC denouncing Alderman Peter JACONELLI – a former Conservative Scarborough Councillor and Mayor, and intimate friend of Jimmy SAVILE – as another paedophile on the SBC Roll of Honour.
Within days, serving Scarborough Borough Councillor Geoff EVANS made the same allegation, adding that the Council and the Police had been fully aware of Peter JACONELLI’s offences, but had covered them up.
Many readers will already know that there followed a period of twelve months during which Scarborough Borough Council did everything in its power to bury the story.
In March 2013, SBC Director of Legal & Democratic Services Lisa DIXON made serious allegations, utterly untrue, against myself, Tim THORNE, Tim HICKS and Glen KILPATRICK, falsely accusing us of criminal offences and threatening civil action in the Courts. These allegations were untrue and remain unsubstantiated to this day.
Lisa DIXON also wrote to the Real Whitby ISP in an unsuccessful attempt to “terminate” (her word) the site to prevent further disclosures.
SBC subsequently issued a flat denial of having done so to BBC documentary ‘Inside Out’ presenter Chris JACKSON, who proceeded to show approaching a million viewers Lisa DIXON’s letter, from which he read out the demand to “terminate” the site, thus proving Lisa DIXON a malicious and deliberate liar.
The documentary also featured interviews with further independent JACONELLI victims, thus vindicating the concerns that Tim HICKS and I had been publishing since the Jimmy SAVILE scandal broke in October 2012.
It was therefore no surprise that in a public meeting of the SBC Full Council on 28th February 2014, SBC Leader Councillor Tom FOX made a formal statement on the JACONELLI allegations.
I covered Cllr Tom FOX’s Statement in detail in my article “Resign, Tom FOX! Spare Scarborough Council Further Disrepute”, published on 3rd March 2014.
Of all the deeply disingenuous remarks made by Cllr Tom FOX, one in particular stands out as being of special interest:
“The police have conducted and continue to conduct their enquiry into these most serious and historical sexual offending allegations. As part of this process and the council’s engagement with the police, I have this week received confirmation from the police that they expect their investigations to be concluded shortly.”
That concluding phrase (highlighted in bold type) is now coming back to haunt Cllr Tom FOX – along with a number of other unpalatable truths.
On Friday 4th July 2014, SBC Solicitor David KITSON sent emails to Tim THORNE and me (but not to Tim HICKS), apologising for the lengthy delays in the Council’s response to our outstanding FOIA requests.
However, all have been deemed “vexatious”, so the Council would not be providing the answers to our legitimate questions – ever.
David KITSON (that model of transparency, who clearly holds Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in total contempt) goes on to accuse each of us of having made hundreds of requests over the past 6 or 7 years (though my very first FOIA request to SBC was on 3rd September 2009, less than 5 years ago), and of having been active participants in an unspecified “campaign group” – an allegation which he states is supported by “a multitude of evidence” on the internet, though he cites nothing. Participation in “campaign groups” is not prohibited – except in SBC’s jaundiced view.
David KITSON attempts to justify his “interference” in our inalienable right “to seek, receive and impart information” by asserting that answering our FOIA requests places an unreasonable burden on the resources of the Council. In his view, our human rights are prohibitively expensive – so he prohibits us from exercising thoe rights.
Finally, after much repetition, he arrives at the sharp end.
“Even more concerning is the impact your activity is having on the democratic process, and the willingness of members of the community to get involved with, and stand for election to, both Parish and Borough Councils. There is a genuine fear amongst those interested in such public roles that they will be subjected to abuse, defamation, harassment and distress. The Council is aware of potential candidates who have withdrawn from the democratic process, and those who have stood down from positions serving their community as a direct consequence of these activities.”
It is encouraging to learn that would-be candidates are now thinking twice about the responsibilities concomitant upon attaining election. It has long been the case that a seat on the Council has been an easy ticket to anywhere between £4K and £25K per year in tax-free allowances, plus expenses, to say nothing of the opportunity to be amongst the first to learn of highly confidential commercial opportunities – all this with no tangible downside.
It is well-known now that the Police will not investigate allegations against elected Councillors or Council Officers, except at the behest of the Council. Formal Complaints to the Monitoring Officer (Lisa DIXON) invariably result in “no further action required”, without being referred to the Standards Committee.
Recently, Councillor Norman MURPHY [Ind.], Chair of the SBC Standards Committee, has expressed his grave concern that no Standards Committee Meetings have been convened in the past twelve months. There would appear to be no internal checks and balances within SBC.
It is manifestly in the public interest that the press – in a democratic society – should be free to scrutinise the activities of Councils, in the public interest, and to expose wrong-doing. But SBC does not agree.
The Council’s view, conversely, is that it is emphatically not in the interests of the Council for elected members to be closely scrutinised by the press – far from it. Now, why would that be? Freedom of the press is a fundamental pillar of democracy. Why would SBC be motivated to act to curtail scrutiny by the press?
Once again, SBC is trying to evade its statutory duty to be open, transparent, accountable and responsive to legitimate scrutiny by using the excuse that our requests for information are “vexatious”. By this abuse of the exemption clauses of the FOIA, SBC is unlawfully withholding information and keeping it secret from rate-payers to protect the very people whom we have amply demonstrated merit rigorous investigation.
SBC is a structured and disciplined organisation, with a precise chain-of-command and well-defined disciplinary Codes of Conduct. Its actions, practices and policies do not miraculously emerge unbidden from some infallible (but hidden) source. They are instigated by individuals of special power and influence within the Council and promulgated by identifiable individuals – some of whom act upon the instructions of other, more senior individuals; some of whom are ‘prime movers’.
At the apex of this pyramid is the Leader of the Council – Cllr Tom FOX [Con.].
David KITSON refers to “potential candidates” who have chosen not to stand for election for fear of press scrutiny. How can he know that? How can we know whether or not this is a fiction? Have these “potential candidates” approved the Council’s refusal to respond to our enquiries which KITSON holds out to be undertaken on their behalf?
The next election is almost a year away. Have “potential candidates” prematurely contacted the Council to announce that they will not stand? How many? What reasons have they given? It would be unprecedented for “potential candidates” to inform the Council that they were not, in fact, “potential candidates” at all.
In my view, KITSON is waffling by the seat of his pants.
Granted that an FOIA request would not, under any circumstances, elicit the identity of any such “potential candidates” (which would breach their rights under the DPA98), nevertheless, confirmation that they do exist (and are not merely figments of David KITSON’s fertile imagination) is a legitimate question; as is a request for the number of “potential candidates” – and, especially, the reasons given (if any) for their respective decisions not to stand. KITSON needs to engage his brain before he types such arrant nonsense.
Tim THORNE and I cannot expect answers to these questions because David KITSON states that our questions will be deemed “vexatious” – like so many questions a truthful response to which would be likely to expose misconduct that the Council seems to prefer to keep hidden from public view.
Next up, David KITSON asserts that some (unspecified) elected Councillors have already withdrawn from public life, thereby evading all further scrutiny. Is this true?
Perhaps he is referring to Cllr Tim LAWN, who was forced to resign his position as an SBC Councillor and a Member of the North York Moors National Park Authority (where he was Chair, no less, of the Planning Committee considering the York Potash proposals) – but only after we exposed his failure to declare a pecuniary interest in the potash development on his Register of Interests – a criminal offence under the terms of the Localism Act 2011.
Yet Tim LAWN has never been prosecuted. Police did not proceed because it was felt (lamely) that Tim LAWN “had no criminal intent”. Lucky him. Can you imagine wriggling out of a criminal offence because the Police felt that you “had no criminal intent”?
Tim THORNE has also asked Lisa DIXON on a number occasions whether or not she has reported ex-Cllr Tim LAWN’s far more serious land acquisitions to the Police – without response. And he has asked all fifty Councillors the same question, but once again there has been no response. “All in this together” springs to mind.
Returning to David KITSON’s statement:
” . . . and those who have stood down from positions serving their community as a direct consequence of these activities.”
Note the plural – ‘those’.
So who has stood down to evade “these activities” – further scrutiny? Would they be comfortable with this description of their motives, or of the action that the Council has now taken in their names?
As far as I recall, apart from Tim LAWN [Con.], only Sandra TURNER [Con.], Geoff EVANS [LibDem.], Nick BROWN [Con.] and Mick COOPER [Ind.] have resigned since the JACONELLI scandal broke.
Of these, I know that Sandra TURNER and Geoff EVANS both stood down out of acute disillusionment.
Neither of the other two has made any public comment.
Our correspondence record with three of those four resigned Councillors demonstrates a cordial relationship. The other has not responded. Unless it can demonstrated to the contrary, the conclusion must be that KITSON, like DIXON, is a liar.
Is David KITSON insinuating that one or more of these four had some reason to fear scrutiny – had something to hide? As a solicitor, he would surely know better than to do that.
There is no substance to David KITSON’s remark; he has included it in a cheap and shabby effort to characterise as mere mischief our legitimate scrutiny of public servants, in the public interest – while steadfastly evading his own statutory responsibility to address the very serious concerns that we have raised, each one supported by meticulously documented evidential material.
Let us not forget that our evidence was investigated for nine months by the BBC legal people; all of our allegations were found to be fully supported by evidence.
On the other side of the coin, David KITSON makes no reference at all to his department’s part in the recent failed attempt to frame me for benefit fraud. He is selective in his argument, staying well clear of Private Eye’s suspicions of malice (article reproduced at the foot of this page).
Whichever way one looks at it, it is patently obvious that there is something that somebody of immense influence in the Council is determined must never come to light. What could that be?
Let us take a look at my unfulfilled FOIA requests this year. Perhaps we will identify which particular request(s) the Council is so determined to evade.
I have requested information on the following topics:
- details of the Council’s IT-system and the extent to which it was used to monitor the Real Whitby web-site. This requested was fulfilled – perhaps in error; new IT-manager Greg HARPER was perhaps unaware that the Council is hostile to public scrutiny.
- the extent of any support, in cash or in kind, that SBC may have given to Totally Locally Whitby – a community projected discredited by the arrest and (subsequently abandoned) prosecution for theft of the main organiser – Kate LONGMATE. In what way is that “vexatious”?
- the extent of the Council’s returns on deposits and investments in recent years. This request was inspired by a substantively identical request that SBC fulfilled in detail for an earlier time-period, to another requestor. But when I am the requestor, it is suddenly deemed “vexatious”. Why?
- the correspondence record between the Leadership and the North Yorkshire Police, to establish the veracity of Cllr Tom FOX’s 28th February 2014 public statement that he had “received confirmation from the police that they expect their investigations to be concluded shortly”. If FOX really had “received confirmation from the police” at that time, why hide it? Why not grasp the opportunity to show that FOX was telling the truth? I have interviewed a considerable number of JACONELLI’s victims, some of whom have no faith in the North Yorkshire Police, as Scarborough victim-support charity H.O.P.E. has confirmed. Some, I have since successfully encouraged to approach Operation Hibiscus supremo Det. Supt. Steve SMITH. So it is entirely reasonable to suspect the veracity of Cllr Tom FOX’s remarks. But it would appear that any scrutiny of Leader Tom FOX’s honesty and integrity is, almost by definition, “vexatious”.
The first three of these requests are entirely innocuous.
It is the fourth that presents problems for Cllr Tom FOX, and I shall tell you why – though Chief Constable Dave JONES has already given the lie to Cllr Tom FOX’s statement within a matter of days of its delivery, in his 3rd March 2014 ‘live’ web-chat.
Four weeks later, on 3rd April 2014, Chief Constable Dave JONES and Police & Crime Commissioner Julia MULLIGAN announced that NYP had voluntarily reported itself to the IPCC, stating:
“The referral relates to how North Yorkshire Police responded to an allegation it received over a decade ago about Jimmy Savile (who died in October 2011) and about several allegations made recently about Savile’s friend, Scarborough resident Peter Jaconelli, who died in 1999.”
FOX’s assertion that he had “received confirmation from the police that they expect their investigations to be concluded shortly” was already looking like wishful thinking – or an expedient distortion of the truth.
So I wrote to Lisa DIXON that same day:
Mrs Lisa DIXON – Director of Legal & Democratic Services and Monitoring Officer – Scarborough Borough Council
IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
You will by now be aware that I have published an article comprising a detailed exposé of the falsehoods contained in the Leader’s statement to Council, as reported by Yorkshire Coast Radio and the Yorkshire Post.
The Leader’s statement is fundamentally dishonest. It is wildly misleading. It is insulting to the intelligence of the Council, the press and the public. It is disrespectful. It must inevitably bring the Council into the most extreme disrepute. I rely on you to acknowledge, by close-of-play today, the text of my article as the text of a Formal Complaint against the Leader, whose position is now irredeemably untenable.
More to the point, unimpeachable information now in my possession (but, as yet, unpublished), as a result of members of the public and former employees of the Council and the North Yorkshire Police coming forward following the transmission of the BBC “Inside Out” documentary, leaves no doubt that the activities of Peter JACONELLI were universally known within the Scarborough Police during the Leader’s tenure of office, and widely known within the Council, too. Trevor HARRINGTON’s statement to the North Yorkshire Police is merely the tip of an iceberg upon which the good standing of the Council is destined to founder.
Moreover, questions await answers regarding the Chief Executive Officer’s actions (and omissions) throughout the present JACONELLI furore.
The public has a right to be aware of this information.
What remains to us now is the arrival at a course of action best suited to preserving the good standing of innocent parties within the Council, as well as the good standing of the Council itself, as an institution, within the community.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, I believe that it is fair and necessary to allow you an opportunity to declare your position and intentions ahead of my forthcoming interviews with national media outlets.
The point of no return has been passed in this affair; what remains is to salvage some dignity for the future.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Very kind regards,
True to form, Lisa DIXON has never responded to my email and my Formal Complaint has never been progressed – and David KITSON now states never will be. Clearly, someone in the Council is anxious to evade searching scrutiny.
Since then, my meetings (in the company of Cllr Mike WARD – no relation) with Det. Supt. Steve SMITH , and my frequent correspondence with him more recently, make clear that four months (already) down the road from Cllr Tom FOX’s “confirmation from the police that they expect their investigations to be concluded shortly”, Operation Hibiscus is far from being concluded and is expected to continue for a matter of some months yet.
The more victims/witnesses come forward, the longer the investigation will roll on. Scarborough victim support charity H.O.P.E. has confirmed eleven new victims, including victims of rape, and like many of the victims/witnesses who have approached the NYE, they still have no confidence in the North Yorkshire Police.
Already the “incompetence” of Scarborough Police during the SAVILE/JACONELLI period is being acknowledged to be a significant factor in the investigation. It is not suggested that this in any way impugns the integrity or professionalism of any presently serving Officer. It is known, however, that Officers from Operation Hibiscus are presently investigating a historical allegation of perverting the course of justice.
Very telling BBC interview-footage from 1995 of the then-Conservative Whip Tim FORTESCUE shows that the protection of paedophiles was, in a very real sense, an unwritten part of Conservative policy at that time. Few doubt that it persists to this day. David CAMERON has not authorised a rigorous investigation for nothing – and in an election year, remember.
As I have said, David KITSON has stated that all of NYE’s attempts to scrutinise Cllr Tom FOX’s honesty and integrity are to be deemed “vexatious” – precisely because he looks to have something to hide. And to fear.
Which, in fact, is as it should be.
Interestingly, Private Eye has this week identified Cllr Tom FOX as the pivotal figure in the apparent inability of our local authorities to protect the public from SAVILE, JACONELLI and other criminals in the Scarborough paedophile-ring. I quote:
“As a senior police officer in Scarborough in the 1980, and chief inspector in charge of the town for much of the 1990s, he seems to have been unaware of what was happening under his nose – even though half the town now claims to have known what was going on”.
Readers will find the full article here.
This latest attempt to foil NYE investigations adds to a tally of dirty-tricks which includes poison-pen letters, threats of violence, slashed tyres, a false and malicious allegation of benefit fraud, legal threats of a civil and criminal nature and a still outstanding threat of arrest on harrassment charges. We certainly seem to have incurred somebody’s wrath and resentment.
But . . .
SBC Leader Tom Fox – Is Our Biggest Fan
What David KITSON and his masters have failed to recognise is that by presenting itself to the public as an institution that is open and transparent only in its hostility to public scrutiny, Scarborough Borough Council is actually fanning the flames of suspicion.
In that sense, Councillor Tom FOX is our biggest fan.