Nigel Ward Letter To Mr Jeremy Holderness – Chief Executive Officer of the North Yorkshire Police Authority
Further to my continuing campaign to elevate Public Standards in local government here in North Yorkshire to an accepatble level, I have today written to Mr Jeremy HOLDERNESS – Chief Executive Officer of the North Yorkshire Police Authority. Readers may find the second part of the letter of significant interest:
Mr Jeremy HOLDERNESS – Chief Executive Officer – NYPA
IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
On 28th may 2012, I lodged a formal corporate complaint against the Personal Assistant of the Chair of North Yorkshire Police authority.
It has been ignored.
It is surely the case that NYPA has a statutory duty to record and investigate all complaints. It is also the case that NYPA, like all Local Authorities, is bound by the terms of the Human Rights Act 1998, which require that authorities must give precedence to that Act before pursuing any action.
I would like your assurance that you, personally, are satisfied that my complaint is being processed in accordance with all relevant regulations and statutes, and, further, that it is being processed without discrimination. As Chief Executive Officer of NYPA, that responsibility rests ultimately with you.
Moving now to the matter of your Decision Notice in respect of a complaint, by a member of the public, against your Chair:
For your convenience, and mine, I have reproduced your Decision Notice here, below.
I take issue with it on several points, which I will now itemise:
1) You state, in reference to Councillor Kenyon’s failure to declare an interest in Whitby Regatta – which you identify as “a charitable institution established, as I understand it, to arrange and oversee an annual community event in Whitby”, that Councillor Kenyon “has not gained any financial advantage from being involved in the organisation”.
This may be true. Unfortunately, it is entirely irrelevant; the complaint addressed Councillor Kenyon’s failure to declare her interest in Whitby Regatta Limited – and entirely separate commercial entity
It follows, therefore, that the second paragraph of your Decision Notice is non-responsive within the parameters of the complaint. That is not acceptable.
2) Your also state, in your third paragraph, that it is your understanding that “last year, a decision was taken to change the status of this organization to that of a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee”. In this, you are mistaken – or have been misled. Please clarify. Thank you.
For the avoidance of doubt, I can assure you, based on direct conversation with Whitby Regatta (NB: NOT Whitby Regatta Limited) personnel, that there are at present two distinct legal entities – Whitby Regatta (which is not, nor ever has been, a Registered Charity – although Councillor Kenyon has falsely declared it, on her Register of Interest with another authority, as “Whitby Regatta – Charitable Trust”) – and Whitby Regatta Limited. Your statement in your Decision Notice is therefore factually incorrect. The status of Whitby Regatta (as distinct from Whitby Regatta Limited) has not changed.
3) I require you to explain the source of your information that “none of the, now, Directors, derive any financial gain from their association with the Company”. How can you know that? Have you examined Whitby Regatta Limited’s accounts? I believe not – for none have yet been returned. It would appear to me that you have provided, in your Decision Notice, information that you cannot support with evidence.
4) Your statement that “whilst the legal status of this organization has changed, the circumstances of councillor Kenyon’s relationship with it have not” is clearly untrue. Under the Articles of Association of Whitby Regatta Limited – Councillor Kenyon’s Directorship in which remained undeclared to several authorities for almost one year – it is clearly stated that remuneration to Directors is authorised. Thus, it is perfectly clear that the circumstances of Councillor Kenyon’s relationship have changed significantly.
5) In your fourth paragraph, you state that the complainant is “correct that councillor Kenyon should have amended her Declaration of Interest, within 28 days, to reflect the change in legal status of the organization and her status as a Director”. I concur (excepting your continued assumption that Whitby Regatta and Whitby Regatta Limited are one and the same entity). What you do not state is that Councillor Kenyon is in breach of that requirement to a degree more than tenfold that prescribed by law. That is not acceptable.
6) You state that, as of 2nd July 2012, weeks after her breach was reported in the media, Councillor Kenyon has finally sought to legitimise her position by belatedly declaring her interest in Whitby Regatta Limited. You neglect to mention that, as of 1st July 2012, the terms of the Localism Act came into effect. It therefore follows that Councillor Kenyon has broken the law in her failure to declare her interest. In my view, it is a very serious matter that the Chair (no less) of the North Yorkshire Police Authority (the body authorised to police the North Yorkshire Police) has, by your and her own admission, broken the law. On this point, you will be advantaged by the knowledge that NYCC has confirmed that complaints unresolved by 1st July 2012 must be addressed under “the new ethical regime”. Under that regime, failure to declare interests is a criminal offence. Aided by that knowledge, you may now find it prudent to reconsider your Decision.
7) Your suggestion that “Councillor Kenyon has been reminded of her obligation to bring to my attention any matter which requires an amendment to the Declaration of Interests” is fatuous in the extreme. Councillor Kenyon has thirty years of experience in local government; the suggestion that she will now mend her ways in respect of statutory duties that have throughout three decades always been incumbent upon her (and which she must know far better than most) is, frankly, ludicrous.
8) Your concluding remark “However, because of the circumstances outlined above, the Chairman of the Standards Committee and I consider this to be a very minor infraction of the Code of Conduct which does not require further investigation or any further action” is self-evidently utterly unsupportable by the evidence of the true circumstances. A criminal act can in no sense be legitimately characterised as “a very minor infraction”. If you wish to take issue with me on that point, you will need to provide a very compelling argument indeed.
In the light of the foregoing – information that may have been unavailable to you at the time of writing your Decision Notice – it is now incumbent upon you, in the public interest, to reconsider your Decision. As it stands, it gives every appearance of a fudged attempt to exculpate Councillor Kenyon’s clearly demonstrated breach of the requirements. This places you in an indefensible position at law.
On a separate but related matter:
FORMAL COMPLAINT against NYPA Chair Councillor Jane Kenyon.
It is my contention, based on the public record – at least insofar as such has not been disclosed by NYCC, SBC, NYMNPA and NYPA, that Councillor Kenyon, over an indeterminate period extending to at least a decade had failed to declare the interests of her life-partner Councillor Thomas William (‘Bill’) Miller in (at least) the following Limited Companies:
- Landscape Design & Construction (Northern) Ltd.
- Landscape Design & Construction Ltd.
- UK Fencing Solutions Ltd.
- Fencing Solutions Northern Ltd.
- Scarborough Fencing Ltd.
- Agricultural Fencing & Groundwork Suppliers Ltd.
- Dales Timber Ltd.
and a plurality of other trading entities, several of which (including, but not limited to, Dales Timber – as distinct from Dales Timber Limited) may very likely have enjoyed (undeclared) trading relationships with any or all of the following authorities:
- Ryedale District Council
- Scarborough Borough Council
- North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority
- North Yorkshire County Council
The onus does not fall upon me to investigate and delineate the entirety of these massive and serial breaches of the Code of Conduct and the Public Trust.
The onus rests upon you, in your capacity as Chief Executive Officer of the NYPA, to address a ‘pattern of behaviour’ of disregard of the regulations.
In my view, and in the face of such profligate breaches of regulations that are thoroughly familiar to Councillor Kenyon, the public interest can only be adequately served by her immediate suspension from duty in her present position as Chair of the NYPA until such time as a thorough-going investigation has been completed, and the appropriate verdict recorded.
I would not wish it upon you that your inaction on such a grave matter should tarnish your reputation at the end of your tenure as CEO of the NYPA approaches. The consequences of you failing to do the right thing do not bear thinking about. It may well be that such a long series of breaches can only have been kept from the public eye by a measure of collusion on the part of the Monitoring Officer(s) and/or Chief Executive(s) of one (or more) of the identified Authorities. If such proves to be the case, in my view – and you may wish to correct that impression – it will fall perilously close to identifying a case of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
For the avoidance of any doubt, my intentions are as follows: despite advancing years and failing health, I will perform my civic duty to investigate suspicion of wrong-doing and corruption within Local Authorities until such time as I am satisfied that the Public Standards of elected members and paid public servants have been elevated to an acceptable level. I can imagine no circumstance in which the NYPA can provide legitimate grounds upon which to take issue me on that intention – indeed, it is the NYPA’s clear duty to aspire to the same goal.
I reserve the right, as always, to publish any/all of my correspondence with the NYPA into the public domain, at my sole prerogative.
In the interests of transparency, I inform you now that all of my correspondence is shared freely with the press and audio-visual media, as well as with the investigative agents informing the Lord Maginnis corruption enquiry.
I look forward to your timely confirmation that the matters I have raised, in the public interest, are now finally to be addressed in an open and accountable way,. and I append, for your consideration, the following words of Prime Minister the Rt.Hon. David Cameron MP (Witney: Conservative):
“The Hon. Gentleman makes a good point. It is very important to send a message . . . that there is not something called white collar crime that is less serious than other crime. Crime is crime and it should be investigated and prosecuted with the full force of the law.”
I am sure you agree.
On that note, I am off to pick up my copy of today’s Private Eye. I bid you ‘good day’.
Yours, with very kind regards,
COPY OF LETTER
Jeremy Holderness, Chief Executive, NYPA HG4 5WA
Dated 5th July 212
Addressed to [name redacted] (received Friday 6th July)
Dear [name redacted],
Register of Interests – Councillor Jane Kenyon
Thank you for your letter of 9 May raising concerns in connection with Councillor Kenyon’s interest in Whitby Regatta Ltd. I have looked into the matter and consulted the Chairman of the Police Authorities Standards Committee.
Councillor Kenyon has had a longstanding registration, in her statutory declaration of interests, of her interest in Whitby Regatta – a charitable institution established, as I understand it, to arrange and oversee an annual community event in Whitby. Throughout her association with this organization, councillor Kenyon has not obtained any financial gain from being involved in the organization nor indeed does any person involved with organizing the Whitby Regatta. The purpose of the organization in entirely charitable.
I understand that last year, a decision was taken to change the status of this organization to that of a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee. However, the purpose of the organization remains unchanged and none of the, now, Directors, derive any financial gain from their association with the Company. Hence, whilst the legal status of this organization has changed, the circumstances of councillor Kenyon’s relationship with it have not.
You are correct that councillor Kenyon should have amended her Declaration of Interest, within 28 days, to reflect the change in legal status of the organization and her status as a Director. She has now done that by notification to me on 2nd July. Councillor Kenyon has been reminded of her obligation to bring to my attention any matter which requires an amendment to the Declaration of Interests. However, because of the circumstances outlined above, the Chairman of the Standards Committee and I consider this to be a very minor infraction of the Code of Conduct which does not require further investigation or any further action.
Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer