A Letter to the Editor from a retired County Councillor who has been conducting his own research into the voluntary work, in the public interest, of Enquirer Local Authorities correspondent, NIGEL WARD.
Dear Editor of North Yorks Enquirer
Thank you for publishing the letter praising your investigative journalist Nigel Ward.
I am delighted to report that it has been very well received throughout the County.
Council colleagues have been asking if it would be possible for Mr Ward to focus his investigatory skills on a number of parishes in our area. Others have asked “Who is this Nigel Ward?”
To answer that second question, I have conducted some research of my own.
I must confess I had no idea that Mr Ward, like myself, had so troubled the authorities as to put himself in considerable peril, having fallen foul of high ranking police officers as well as council bigwigs. However, his successes, unlike mine, have been well documented in the nation’s leading whistle-blowing publication, Private Eye.
Please consider presenting the fruits of my research to your readership because people need to be made aware of the allergy to Openness, Transparency, and most of all, Accountability in the public sector that we all, through Council Tax, are obliged to fund.
A Retired Councillor[Name & Address supplied]
I refer you to the Private Eye edition of the 3rd of August 2016, in which the following article reports at some length on the ordeal of your correspondent (other Private Eye references inserted, as appropriate). It chronicles a long and concerted campaign to silence Mr Ward’s most praiseworthy efforts to expose the true character of some of the County’s most powerful figures.
North Yorkshire boors
INSPECTOR Knacker has been splashing taxpayers’ cash with abandon in Yorkshire, all in the cause of closing down free speech. North Yorkshire Police (NYP) has just spent an estimated £1m-plus on a series of inconclusive cases aimed at gagging a pensioner “citizen journalist” whose website has published embarrassing but true stories about local establishment figures, including police and councillors. Many stories broken by Nigel Ward (pictured, top) on the websites Real Whitby and North Yorks Enquirer have been followed up by the Eye and other publications. His scoops include the indifference of police and council to the fact that the late mayor of Scarborough and friend of Jimmy Savile, Peter Jaconelli, was a predatory paedophile [Eye 1370]; that senior members of the North Yorkshire National Park Authority who happened to be landowners stood to make millions if they passed an application for a controversial potash mine in the park [Eye 1334]; and that prominent Tory councillor and former North Yorkshire police authority chair Jane Kenyon-Miller (pictured, bottom) had a string of undeclared business failures behind her which left unpaid debts in Britain and the US [Eye 1318]. Not to mention stories of councillors’ expenses fiddles and unpaid council taxes.
[PRIVATE EYE #1370]
[PRIVATE EYE #1334]
[PRIVATE EYE #1318]
Clearly Ward had to be stopped.
In 2013 Scarborough borough council’s chief legal officer Lisa Dixon spoke about “closing down” [him] down if the stream of “defamatory and untrue” stories didn’t stop [Eye 1338].
[PRIVATE EYE #1338]
[PRIVATE EYE #1367]
Police launched an investigation, Operation Rome, which lasted almost three years and cost just shy of £410,000. Alas, the Crown Prosecution Service twice refused to bring criminal charges. No sooner was Rome closed down than NYP embarked on a follow-up, Operation Hyson, which eventually begat a civil case for harassment which petered out at Leeds county court at the end of July .
An initial list of nine claimants included three serving senior NYP officers, Chief Constable Dave Jones, his deputy Tim Madgwick and Chief Supt Lisa Winward. But by the time the case got to Leeds, only Kenyon-Miller remained in the fight, and Ward was the sole remaining defendant.
At the conclusion of the case, Nigel Ward agreed not to write about Kenyon-Miller any more as long as she remained out of public office. No order for costs or damages was made against him and his costs, yet to be assessed, will be paid by the claimants.
The decision to pursue the case and fund it out of taxpayers’ money was taken by Chief Constable Jones, according to the local police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan, even though he was a party to the proceedings. Knacker is shy about the cost of Operation Hyson. It is hard to see that it could have cost less than the £410,000 quoted for Rome. NYP admits that it spent more than £217,000 on external solicitors and barristers for Hyson.
So at a conservative estimate, a stretched rural force appears to have spent well over £1m funding futile cases in which senior police officers and a former chair of the police authority were claimants.
[Editor’s Note: The (then) Chief Constable, Dave Jones, left the North Yorkshire Police shortly after the failed legal action, soon followed by the (then) Deputy Chief Constable, Tim Madgwick. The (then) Chief Superintendent Lisa Winward was subsequently appointed as Chief Constable; she has recently announced her forthcoming retirement. Former County & Borough Councillor Jane Kenyon-Miller (for many years Chair of the North Yorkshire Police Authority) has retired from public life…. Meanwhile, Nigel Ward is still holding public servants to account.]