Friday 21st June 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

Vexatious Potto 3 (Pt.2)

May 30, 2024 Potto

Vexatious Potto 3 (Pt.2)

  • – an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, investigating further fall-out from Potto Parish Council’s Upper Tribunal UT13 form, arising from another serious failure of sound Leadership, Governance and Accountability. 

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Potto Parish Council has snubbed the Tribunal Judge’s Decision by continuing to publish its maliciously antagonistic view that certain residents are to be ‘deemed’ “vexatious”, despite the Council’s failure to overturn the Tribunal Judge’s Ruling that the Council’s view is “not in accordance with the law.
Councillor Andrew WILDE’s absurd and rather puerile attempt to overturn (on behalf of the Council) a First-Tier Tribunal Ruling has just ended in complete and utter ignominy – but, astonishingly, his abject failure has been censored entirely from Potto Parish Council’s public record. Nothing to see here, folks; keep shopping.
The Tribunal Judge must have been sorely tempted to consign WILDE’s Application to the trash-can as time-wasting gibberish drafted by a complete ignoramus. The Judge’s actual response is thoroughly professional and well-reasoned – though nonetheless damning for that.
Upper Tribunal Judge WIKELEY stated (in this excerpt from his Summary [link] dated 5th January 2024) to Potto Parish Council, “The [Council’s] grounds of appeal are not arguable with a realistic prospect of success”; and, “There is no basis on which that further application could succeed”. 
I hope Judge WIKELEY will forgive me for opining that he has stated the blindingly obvious.
Judge WIKELEY then delivered his coup de grâce“The long(er) answer is that the grounds for this latter suspension application betray some fundamental misunderstandings on the part of the Parish Council of both the FOIA regime and the FTT process”.   This is judicial-speak for “The Applicant is an unmitigated dunderhead”.
Readers may discern that Judge WIKELEY’s statement (that WILDE’s UT13 form “betrays some fundamental misunderstandings”) is a polite and professional form of words meaning that Councillor WILDE (who drafted and signed the UT13 form) has not the faintest idea what he is doing, is clearly floundering and utterly out of his depth, is spouting palpable rubbish and is clinging to a position that is far beyond the bounds of hopeless. But Councillor WILDE, presumably contingent upon his all-pervading ego, apparently lacks the intellectual capacity to recognise the extent of his own incompetence. He still believes he is never wrong, despite the Judge’s censure.
Readers may not be surprised to learn that Judge WIKELEY’s January 2024 Decision has also been censored entirely from Potto Parish Council’s published records. It seems highly likely that the other Potto Councillors – and possibly even the Clerk – are also being kept in the dark.
This Application for Permission to Appeal is with regard to First-Tier Tribunal case EA/2023/0266 and Upper Tribunal case UA-2023-001873-GIA (available in the public domain).
Potto Parish Council’s February 2024 Minutes record three other cases where it is in serious trouble with the Commissioner/Tribunal, but not these particular cases (see excerpt below):

Though Potto Parish Council’s March 2024 meeting was cancelled abruptly (in unexplained circumstances), the draft Minutes for the Council meeting held on 16th April 2024 again make no reference to Judge WIKELEY’s Decision or to its case number UA-2023-001873-GIA. Likewise, the 22nd May 2024 Agenda. Clearly, WILDE’s deeply embarrassing failure to engage and comply with the Upper Tribunal’s procedures was simply not for public (or Council) consumption.
Thus, WILDE now found himself between a rock and a hard place. Potto Parish Council’s records show that the Council was not aware of his failure to secure Permission to Appeal (PTA) – at a full ‘paper’ hearing – to the Upper Tribunal, or even that he had ever actually applied for Permission to Appeal at the Upper Tribunal. How this concealment will be portrayed in the Council’s Annual Governance Statement (AGS) is a mystery shortly to be revealed.
On the face of it, WILDE’s only remaining option would have been to participate in an Oral Hearing at the Upper Tribunal, where he would have been obliged to concede that he had not one single scrap of evidence to suggest that any Potto whistle-blowers (including the Respondent in this case) were (or ever had been) “vexatious” – and he would also have to identify an “error in law” at the First-Tier Tribunal.
WILDE would then have had the unenviable prospect of facing the Judges and submitting to cross-examination by the Respondent (the Potto resident who had won a Judge’s Decision that confirmed that WILDE’s false allegations of “vexatious” behaviour were “not in accordance with the law”).
Oh, to be a fly-on-the-wall in that scenario! I just love stand-up comedy!
In the event, even Councillor WILDE realised that this could only end in complete and utter humiliation for him and, worse, he knew (or should have known) that his failures would be recorded and published by the Tribunal – and the North Yorks Enquirer. Thus, the rest of the Potto Parish Councillors and the public-at-large would sooner or later have found out about the absurdities he had been propagating in their name – but behind their backs.
It is easy enough to imagine that WILDE would be eager to prevent this looming debacle from seeing the light of day to preserve the inflated status of his ego.
On the other hand, if WILDE had failed to attend the Oral Hearing at the Upper Tribunal – or decided to withdraw altogether – it would remain a matter of public record that he had failed to secure Permission to Appeal at a ‘full paper hearing’ and the record would stand forever as proof that the Potto resident and her/his Freedom of Information requests were not, and never had been, “vexatious”.  and that WILDE’s public statements to that effect were false and, indeed, libellous.
This would have been equally disastrous for WILDE, as he would no longer be able to continue his decade-long campaign of slagging off the Potto resident as “vexatious”, because to do so would contravene the Judge’s Decision and put him at risk of a civil action to which he could mount no defence. And if he did publish further such allegations, the Tribunal would inevitably determine that it was WILDE who was being “vexatious”, to say nothing of him standing in contempt of the Judge’s Decision. (Rule #1: Never mess with the Judge!).
Councillor Andrew WILDE was by now in a real quandary. The date for the Oral Hearing was looming ever closer. He had to do something . . . but what? Resign? Plead insanity? Do a ‘John STONEHOUSE’?
In my next “In My View” article in this series (“Vexatious Potto 3 (Pt.3)”), I hope to reveal the conclusion to this downwardly-spiralling saga of denial, delusion and folly.

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