EXCLUSIVE! Durham Police confirm fraud investigation
OPERATION COUNTRYMAN II (6)
EXCLUSIVE: Durham Police confirm fraud investigation
- Our crime and parliamentary affairs correspondent TIM HICKS continues his exposure of misconduct in North Yorkshire Police and Scarborough Borough Council.
Councillor Jane Kenyon, her partner Councillor William Miller and Dales Timber Limited.
Regular readers of Real Whitby will know that it has been covering a series of allegations of misconduct on the part of SBC Councillor Jane Kenyon (Conservative Mayfield-cum-Mulgrave) and her life-partner Newby and Scalby Parish Councillor William “Bill” Miller.
I can now reveal exclusively that following publicity generated by Real Whitby coverage of these allegations, Real Whitby was contacted by member of the public completely unconnected to Real Whitby concerning the conduct of Dales Timber Limited. Councillor Kenyon was the Company Secretary of Dales Timber Limited and Councillor Miller was a Director. As a result, a complaint was made to North Yorkshire Police.
Real Whitby journalist Nigel Ward assisted the victims with the complaint to North Yorkshire Police and attended all of the meetings in the capacity of “complaint friend”.
Detective Inspector Ian Wills of the North Yorkshire Police Financial Investigations Unit has assessed the evidence as sufficiently credible to warrant recording it as a crime (number 12120160287) and it is currently being investigated by the Economic Crime Unit of Durham Constabulary.
Earlier today, a spokesman for Durham Police commented:
- “We can confirm Durham Constabulary was asked by North Yorkshire Police to conduct an investigation into an allegation of fraud relating to Dales Timber Limited. Our enquiries are continuing.”
Real Whitby articles previously published and already in the public domain concerning Dales Timber Limited are in the related reading section at the end of the article.
North Yorkshire Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire Mrs Julia Mulligan have seen a draft of this article and declined to comment.
However, it is one of the other allegations raised by Real Whitby which was published by Private Eye on the 12th of July 2012 and which is not under investigation by Durham Police, which I wish to focus on in this article.
Councillor Jane Kenyon, her partner Councillor William Miller and Belvedere Computers Inc
Briefly, Private Eye alleged that Councillor Kenyon is the Chief Financial Officer of Belvedere Computers Inc, a suspended company incorporated in California no C0999400. Councillor Miller is recorded as its Chief Executive and neither Councillor has declared these appointments in their Register of Interests. Please see Private Eye article 001 here.
Councillor Kenyon and Councillor Miller have not denied this allegation, although Councillor Kenyon did issue a statement some time before the Private Eye article through Ms Carole Dunn (North Yorkshire County Council Monitoring Officer) as follows: “Councillor Kenyon ….. has advised me that she has had no connection with Belvedere Computers Inc since November 1980 which predates her membership of the County Council. The issue of registering an interest simply would not therefore arise”.
However, this cannot be correct because the company still exists in California with substantial debts and Councillor Kenyon is still registered as its Chief Financial Officer residing at 851 Hinckley Road, Burlingame, California the former address she apparently shared with Councillor Miller. It therefore appears that, having run up these debts in Belvedere Computers Inc., they left the United States without notifying the authorities of where they had moved to.
It has been alleged that both councilors have committed a criminal offence under the Localism Act 2011 by deliberately and consistently withholding their positions in Belvedere Computers Inc from their Register of Interests since they first entered public office many years ago.
This is a similar issue to the one that Sir Ian Andrews, the Chairman of another police organisation (the Serious and Organised Crime Agency) had to resign over last week. In his case this was due to an unintentional oversight, which was nonetheless inexcusable and – to his credit – Sir Ian honourably accepted responsibility for it and resigned. In Councillor Kenyon’s case it has apparently been due to a deliberate act of deception practiced for many years, but her resignation has not been forthcoming.
Mrs Dunn has seen a draft of this article and has been asked to confirm that she is still satisfied with Councillor Kenyon’s response to the allegations about Belvedere Computers Inc above. Mrs Dunne responded: “I cannot add to this matter. Ms Kenyon is no longer a County Councillor and if Mr Hicks has any on-going queries in relation to interests he will need to raise them with the persons concerned directly.”
The response of Councillor Kenyon
In response to the articles Real Whitby ran on her raising concerns about her conduct, Councillor Kenyon could have issued a full statement denying the allegations demanded an apology or sued for libel. She could also have issued an apology and corrected her register of interests, or resigned honourably. In the event, she did neither of these things. Her response to this criticism was swift, well planned, ruthless and decisive.
She ordered my immediate arrest for harassment by North Yorkshire Police.
Under normal circumstances, anyone walking onto a Police Station complaining that they had committed a criminal offence and asking the Police to arrest the journalist that had detected this and published it, would have been laughed at, told that there was no criminal offence and asked to leave or be arrested for wasting Police time.
However, Councillor Kenyon was the Chair of the North Yorkshire Police Authority and therefore normal rules did not apply.
No doubt the revelation in the national press that the Chair of its Police Authority committed a criminal offence was hugely embarrassing to North Yorkshire Police. So the investigation of Councillor Kenyon’s ridiculous allegations was immediately allocated to a rising star in North Yorkshire Police, the then Detective Chief Inspector now Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson, probably one of the top detectives in North Yorkshire.
Enter the Detective: Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson (Article 1)
In her determination to concoct a case strong enough to justify charging me and prevent any further criticism or embarrassment to North Yorkshire Police and Councillor Kenyon, Detective Superintendent Pearson ignored the minor and inconvenient details that there was no evidence of a crime and that in exposing acts of misconduct by Councillor Kenyon in her capacity as a Councillor, I had acted entirely lawfully as a journalist in the public interest.
Detective Superintendent Pearson obeyed Councillor Kenyon’s orders and had me interviewed under caution as a criminal suspect at Fulford Road Police Station, York, where I was threatened with arrest for the harassment of Councillor Kenyon.
Quite apart from the fact that Detective Superintendent Pearson tried to frame me for harassment at the request of a person whom she knew I had detected committing a criminal offence, there are a number of other things that must cause additional grave concern over Detective Superintendent Pearson’s conduct of this investigation. These are:
- I have previously criticised Detective Superintendent Pearson over her failure to properly investigate the theft of electronic goods from a private house, in which a Police Officer was implicated. This case is still ongoing and I was questioned about this case at Fulford Road Police Station, York on Detective Superintendent Pearson’s orders. This is clearly a conflict of interest and Detective Superintendent Pearson should never have accepted appointment as the Investigating Officer in a case where there are allegations of misconduct against her. She has, in short, put herself in charge of investigating allegations of corruption against herself.
- The pdf of the letter Detective Superintendent Pearson sent to me by e mail on the 22nd of June 2012 directing me to report to a police station to be arrested within one month, had the wrong date and was not properly signed with her police collar number, which is contrary to force policy. I have subsequently asked for the original letter under signature and Detective Superintendent Pearson will not supply it. Nor – incredibly – will she provide details of exactly what it is she alleges I have written that constitutes harassment, presumably because I have not committed any act of harassment and she has no evidence to support her allegations.
- Detective Superintendent Pearson will not provide the crime number for Councillor Kenyon’s harassment complaint. This leads me to conclude that the investigation into Councillor Kenyon’s allegation was run unofficially i.e. off the books with no records and no crime number. Hence Detective Superintendent Pearson’s refusal to comply with normal procedure and provide an original letter under her signature, or to confirm a crime number.
- The letter was authorized by the Force Intelligence Bureau, (which coincidentally features prominently in the Jimmy Savile and Peter Jaconelli police corruption investigation). However Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway, who was at that time Director of Force Intelligence, also refused to provide an original letter under signature.
- North Yorkshire Police will not provide a copy of Councillor Kenyon’s statement, transcripts of the interview with her, or of the interview under caution at Fulford Road Police Station conducted with myself. Presumably to prevent it from being used in evidence against Councillor Kenyon or Detective Superintendent Pearson.
- A harassment complaint would normally be investigated by a Uniform Branch Constable. Councillor Kenyon’s complaint was investigated by Detective Chief Inspector Pearson (normally runs murder enquiries and major operations), two of the most experienced detectives in North Yorkshire Police CID: Mr Ian Murray and Mr Steve Taylor, supported by the Mr Simon Dennis, the most highly experienced solicitor in force Headquarters. Both detectives were highly formidable and impressive investigators. I consider it is scandalous that three senior detectives were diverted from investigating crime, to harassing a journalist for uncovering things that Councillor Kenyon wanted kept out of the press.
- This type of issue is normally dealt with under civil law by suing for libel, but Councillor Kenyon used her position as Chair of the Police Authority to have it dealt with under criminal law by Police officers funded by the taxpayer. It appears that three of the top detectives in North Yorkshire Police and the force solicitor have been diverted from the investigation of crime for the personal benefit of Councillor Kenyon.
- If there was sufficient evidence to support it, a harassment complaint would normally be dealt with by issuing a harassment warning, giving advice or issuing a caution. In my case Detective Superintendent Pearson went straight into an arrest operation. Again, contrary to normal force policy and an abuse of her power as a senior Police Officer.
- I was questioned at Fulford Road Police station about articles I had written, although it was obvious they did not constitute a criminal offence. By using the pretext of investigating a bogus crime, to unlawfully suppress legitimate public comment on misconduct by the Chair of the Police Authority Detective Superintendent Pearson abused her authority to attack press freedom and my individual right of free speech.
- Detective Superintendent Pearson wrote to me on Force headed paper claiming: “There are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the above offences have been committed and there are reasonable grounds to suspect you of being guilty of them. As a result there is a requirement to exercise a power of arrest under Section 24 (5) (e) Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence, including to interview you regarding the complaints that are under investigation.” This was a lie. In the opinion of both lawyers present at the interrogation, no evidence of any offence was produced by Mr Murray and Mr Taylor. Further, I was not in fact arrested, released on Police bail, given advice, issued with a harassment warning, cautioned or anything else. The entire investigation was without any evidence foundation of any crime at all and served only to maliciously cause personal alarm, anxiety, distress and inconvenience to me.
- During the interview –revealingly- Mr Taylor aggressively accused me of having “damaged North Yorkshire Police”. This is not an offence, should therefore have formed no part of his investigation and he had no business putting this allegation to me as part of a criminal investigation; but it is obviously the real reason I was threatened with arrest. Whilst North Yorkshire Police have unquestionably been damaged by the revelations about misconduct by Councillor Kenyon, the Parliamentary criticism over the Hofschroer fraud and Police corruption case, and the allegations over Chief Police Officer misconduct in which Councillor Kenyon also features; I did not commit these acts that have caused the adverse publicity and damage Mr Murray referred to, I have only helped made the public aware of them. The individuals concerned are responsible for the damage caused to the reputation of their force by their conduct, not me.
- Mr Murray referred to Councillor Kenyon familiarly as “Jane Kenyon” not Miss Kenyon or Councillor Kenyon during the interrogation. It was clear that he was familiar with her and she was being preferentially treated as a Police insider.
If Detective Superintendent Pearson worked for a bank, a firm of solicitors or an accountant’s practice and she had issued a letter on the firm’s headed paper which was not properly signed and dated, in which she exceeded her authority, lied and falsely accused an innocent person of a crime, she would have lost her job for it. However, Detective Superintendent Pearson works for North Yorkshire Police where very much lower standards of discipline and integrity apply. Consequently, no action was taken against her and North Yorkshire Police are currently supporting Detective Superintendent Pearson by refusing to respond to any correspondence on the case. Hence, my decision to raise it in the press.
Given that North Yorkshire Police have now referred some of the allegations raised by Real Whitby about Councillor Kenyon and Councillor Miller to an outside Force for investigation, the concerns raised by Real Whitby appear entirely credible. Thanks to Real Whitby, an investigation is now being progressed in the normal way by Durham Constabulary. Further, Detective Superintendent Pearson’s threat to arrest me for raising these concerns was obviously unlawful and a corrupt act. That is not to say that Councillor Kenyon has done anything wrong, it may transpire that there is no case to answer or insufficient evidence to warrant a prosecution, but the allegations will at least have been fully and properly investigated, in the public interest.
No further action was taken against me by North Yorkshire Police, it appeared that whilst Detective Superintendent Pearson had succeeded in abusing her position as a police officer to deliberately cause heedless alarm, anxiety and distress to me on the order of Councillor Kenyon, she had nevertheless failed in her primary objective of framing me for harassment.
Following on from the Detective Superintendent Pearson debacle, I felt confident that there would be no further action, so myself and other Real Whitby journalists maintained our investigation into misconduct by Councillors. It now appears obvious that I had completely underestimated Councillor Kenyon . . .
Enter the Lawyer: SBC Borough Solicitor Lisa Dixon
On the 31st of March 2013, Scarborough Borough Council solicitor Lisa Dixon wrote to the Real Whitby Internet Service Provider asking it to close Real Whitby down, alleging that that Real Whitby had made defamatory remarks and committed criminal acts, and that this had been reported to North Yorkshire Police. Simultaneously Real Whitby journalists Nigel Ward, Tim Thorne and I received similar letters from Mrs Dixon also threatening us with legal action.
In short, Mrs Dixon was resurrecting the same allegations that County Councillor Kenyon had ordered Detective Superintendent Pearson to investigate the previous July. There are a number of other things that concern me about the conduct of this matter as follows:
- Councillor Kenyon is the Portfolio holder for Finance Legal and Procurement and therefore Mrs Dixon’s boss. She must have been completely aware of this extraordinary and unprecedented act of the Borough solicitor that reports to her trying to close down a local paper that had criticized her. Mrs Dixon has claimed: “For your information the legal action to which you refer was not discussed at the Cabinet meeting of 26 March 2013, nor was any motion or report tabled in relation to it. The issue of the letter did not require Cabinet approval. Councillor Kenyon did not instigate or suggest the sending of this letter.” However, given that Councillor Kenyon is the only Councillor that we know for certain has made complaint to the Police, it is inconceivable that Mrs Dixon would not have issued a letter before action based on Councillor Kenyon’s evidence to the Police, without the authorization of Councillor Kenyon and extensive discussion with her.
- Having concocted a false allegation of harassment and tried and failed to have me arrested once, Councillor Kenyon did not declare her personal interest in having Mrs Dixon reassert the false allegation that I am a criminal, although she plainly had one. This should have been declared before the Department for which Councillor Kenyon is responsible used her claims to justify falsely accusing me of committing criminal offence and closing down Real Whitby (complete with the articles about Dales Timber Limited and Belvedere Computers Inc), which she knew had been investigated by the Police and found to be false. Further, Mrs Dixon must have been completely aware of this when she threatened legal action.
- Mrs Dixon conveniently omitted to mention in her letters of the 28th of March 2013 demanding the termination of Real Whitby that Councillor Kenyon’s allegations of harassment had been investigated in July 2012, found to be untenable and no action was taken. Four months on, North Yorkshire Police have not been in contact with myself, Glen Kirkpatrick, Tim Thorne or Nigel Ward and it is therefore clear that the alleged complaints made by multiple Councillors alleging criminal acts Mrs Dixon referred to – assuming any were in fact made – were without foundation and – contrary to Mrs Dixon’s claims – are not being investigated by the Police.
- Real Whitby has asked Mrs Dixon to confirm which comments or articles she asserts are defamatory. She has been unable to provide any example of a defamatory comment, or anything that could constitute a criminal offence. As with Detective Superintendent Pearson, she has in fact been unable to produce any evidence of any wrongdoing of any sort whatsoever. Nor has the Council sued for libel.
- Trying to close down a local newspaper that has criticized some Councillors is clearly an attack on the freedom of the press and the right of free speech. Hence the motion of censure passed by Whitby Town Council. Real Whitby has confirmed it will withdraw any unfair comment, issue a retraction or correction, and issue an apology if indeed we have made a mistake, yet having initiated this situation, Mrs Dixon has not asked for any correction, withdrawal or apology of any article or comment. Incredibly, having complained about the articles and had the opportunity to have them removed or corrected, she now appears happy to allow them to stand.
- Mrs Dixon will not confirm who asked her to issue these threats of legal action, which Councillors and Officers she is acting on behalf of, who it is that authorised the issue of the letters before action, and who it is in addition to Councillor Kenyon – if anyone – that has complained to the Police. North Yorkshire Police has also declined to comment.
- Miss Dixon will neither confirm nor deny that Councillor Tom Fox is another of the complainants she referred to, or if his complaint related to articles covering the failure of North Yorkshire Police to arrest Jimmy Savile associate and senior Conservative politician Peter Jaconelli, who was openly operating as a paedophile in Scarborough while Councillor Fox was the head of policing there. Subsequently, as a result of a Real Whitby investigation, the IPCC directed North Yorkshire Police to investigate if there had been misconduct over its failure to detect Savile’s offending.
- When I complained to the North Yorkshire Police Authority that Councillor Kenyon had tried to have me arrested, Mr Nigel Tapley JP wrote back asserting her complaint had been made in her private capacity and was therefore nothing to do with the Police Authority. Mrs Dixon appears to have confirmed in her letter to the Real Whitby ISP that this is not so. It is now clear that Mrs Kenyon’s complaint was made not in her capacity as a private person, as she claimed, but in her official capacity as a Councillor, which contradicts her evidence to Mr Tapley and his findings.
- On the 9th of April 2013 Whitby Town Council debated and carried a motion deploring the actions of SBC towards Real Whitby. Prior to the debate, SBC issued a statement to the Councillors and the press stating that “Real Whitby…have merely been asked to desist from publishing statements which are inaccurate, misleading and defamatory”. Given that Mrs Dixon had written to the Real Whitby Internet Service Provider demanding that the Real Whitby website be “terminated”, it is clear that the statement contained deliberate falsehood. Further, this related to legal matters within the remit of the Finance Legal and Procurement Department, it is inconceivable that Mrs Dixon did not draft and approve the content of this deliberately misleading press release.
- On the 11th of April 2013 I wrote to Mrs Dixon pointing out the errors in the statement and asking her to withdraw it. She refused to withdraw or correct the statement although she must have known it contained deliberate falsehood.
- Having issued threats to commence legal action which – after nearly four months – it has not been able to support with evidence -as with Detective Superintendent Pearson before her – Mrs Dixon is refusing to confirm what her specific complaints are, withdraw the threats or commence proceedings. This simply serves to leave the threat of legal action hanging over Nigel Ward, Tim Thorne, Glenn Kilpatrick and I, thereby causing needless alarm, distress and anxiety.
- Mrs Dixon started her letters with “I am a solicitor” thereby using her respected status as a lawyer with all of the implications of completely honourable and impeccable conduct, and learned knowledge of the law, to give weight and credence to the untenable allegations she was making.
In summary, the complainant(s) have variously used Police Officers, the Force solicitor and the Borough solicitor (Mrs Dixon) to cause needless alarm and distress, without having to reveal or justify their allegations in any way, suffer any consequences or expend any personal funds to do so, against those that have simply engaged in legitimate public comment.
All of this appears to me to be unethical. Particularly as when taken with the false allegations made against me to the Police by Councillor Kenyon, the correspondence appears to be part of a sustained course of conduct maintained for over a year in joint enterprise with other parties, which is calculated to cause alarm and distress and has brought ridicule on the Council in the national press (please see Private Eye article 006 here), and a vote of censure by Whitby Town Council.
I would comment in passing that all professional persons be they Doctors, solicitors, accountants or whatever, are taught in their training that they are not just employees that have to do what they are ordered. As a professional person they must apply their own personal judgment, honesty and integrity to each issue. They must never allow themselves to be pressurised into doing something unethical on behalf of a third party – even if it is an employer – because as soon as that happens, you have compromised your independence, integrity and professional standing, to become someone else’s mouthpiece.
Mrs Dixon and the SBC Press Offfice have had access to a draft of this article and no comment has been received from them. I have asked that a copy of the article is forwarded to Councillor Kenyon and Councillor Miller and have received no response from them as yet. I will publish any response I subsequently receive.
I am investigating Detective Superintendent Pearson in respect of several other allegations of corruption, but cannot cover them here for reasons of space. I will therefore be running another three articles on her in due course as follows:
- Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson (Article 2): This Warrant Card for hire.
- Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson (Article 3): How Detective Superintendent Pearson abused her position to exclude an eighty six year old veteran of the Second World War from returning to her home in the UK.
- Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson (Article 4): Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson, Mr Ian Murray, OPERATION HAVEN and the Burglary investigation that never was.
However, my next article will be:
Operation Countryman II (7): An embarrassment to the British Police Service: The NYP Force Intelligence Bureau, SOCA, Interpol, GCHQ and Mr Steve Read’s spectacularly bungled international kidnapping fiasco.
Dales Timber Limited: Related Reading