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The North Yorkshire Police senior figures’ payments scandal
Many Real Whitby readers will have been shocked by the news that North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan has failed in her bid to obtain the repayment of £99,866.00 of allowances paid to two former Chief Officers of North Yorkshire Police over a six-year period from 2008 to 2012 – the legal time limit within which the payments can be recovered. Full story here:
North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Report here:
In a joint statement, Mrs Julia Mulligan and Chief Constable Dave Jones said the report was a result of concerns over payments made to police chiefs being raised locally. This, of course, includes pressure brought by Real Whitby, which first exposed that Chief Constable Maxwell had received £50,000 of these unaudited and unaccounted for allowances on the 8th of June 2012 and has continually pressed North Yorkshire Police for a resolution of this issue ever since.
It should be noted that this demand for repayment only goes back six years, the full amount expended on these allowances to Chief Police Officers may involve other officers, in addition to those identified, who have since retired. Consequently the full figure may be very much higher than the released figure of £99,866.00, and involve other parties.
Mrs Mulligan and Chief Constable Jones went on to state :
“It will be the first time North Yorkshire Police will have published a report of this nature, and is in stark contrast to the old way of doing business and keeping reports like these under lock and key.”
Mrs Mulligan and Chief Constable Jones issued a joint statement yesterday confirming that they would not be pursuing recovery of the funds:
“We are continuing to urge Mr Maxwell and Mr Briggs to pay back taxpayers’ money that they should not have received. We believe there has been an overwhelming public argument put to them to return the funds, the reasons for which are highlighted in the report.”
“However, at the same time, we have to be pragmatic. At present, our specialist barrister’s clear advice is that the costs of taking this matter to court will outweigh any potential financial payback. This would in effect amount to throwing good money after bad, and we do not think that it is in the taxpayer’s interest.”
“One of the main obstacles to legal proceedings was the quality of the paperwork, and lack of personnel files, inherited from the Police Authority. Although it remains the Police Authority appeared to act in good faith, it is highly regrettable and frustrating to have inherited this position, and we have taken steps to ensure this cannot happen again. We also have to bear in mind this is an untested area of law, which makes the matter more complex still.”
Prior to the appointment of Mrs Mulligan as the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) on 22 November 2012, remuneration of senior officers was approved by the North Yorkshire Police Authority Management Board, and comprised the following persons:
The Real Whitby investigation
Following the furore over the IPCC report on Deputy Chief Constable Briggs allowances, Real Whitby exclusively published similar concerns about another four senior figures in North Yorkshire Police. We also published similar concerns about Superintendent Ackerley and Assistant Chief Constable Collins which were known prior to the comment on Deputy Chief Constable Briggs.
A total of seven senior figures from North Yorkshire Police and the Police Authority, involving between £500,000 – £600,000 – not just the two referred to in the above statement involving a sum of £99,866.00.
The seven senior figures
1. Senior Figure A: Former Deputy Chief Constable Adam Briggs
To quote the original article from the 8th of June 2012:
“It then became clear that DCC Briggs had received £31,647.06 of expense payments, paid though an unauditable development allowance and which was illegally removed from the supervision of the Audit Commission (and run as a ‘slush fund’), which he could not account for. In addition, a further £11,750 of expenses payments that he had not yet received had been “authorised” for payment to him, by Chief Constable Maxwell’s PA.
To quote the IPCC report below: “The fact that the first two payments to Enabling Development were authorised by the CC’s Personal Assistant, without the knowledge of the CC or the force Finance Officer was unacceptable. The likelihood of any appropriate challenge to a senior officer’s financial claims from a subordinate staff member must have been very limited or non existent.”
Initially, the Police Authority declined to investigate the allegations. However, so serious were the allegations that, unusually, the IPCC took the investigation over and started to investigate DCC Briggs again. So, the Police Authority allowed DCC Briggs to retire, thereby preventing him from being convicted of misconduct.”
Throughout the investigation, DCC Briggs maintained his right to silence and refused to co-operate with the investigation. In the words of IPCC Commissioner Long:
“It is utterly unacceptable that more than £30,000 of public funds can be handed to an officer without any means to audit how that money is used. Although the police authority stipulated what the money was to be used for, they did not check. Although Mr Briggs has retired, one would think he would want to take an opportunity to explain what he did with the money and why he claimed a further £11,750 from the public purse. I find his decision not to assist our investigation or answer our questions disappointing. It leaves us with an expenses claim that does not appear to withstand scrutiny and the actions of a senior police officer that do not appear justifiable. The police authority’s remit is to scrutinise the expenditure of a police force and hold the senior officers to account. It is utterly unacceptable therefore that more than £30,000 of public funds can be handed to an officer without any means to audit how that money is used.”
2. Senior Figure B: Former Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell
The above allegations concerning DCC Briggs were widely commented on in the press. The IPCC report (Paragraph 89) revealed that Chief Constable Maxwell had also received these unaudited (Paragraph 23) and unaccounted-for allowances:
However, the IPCC did not raise any questions about this aspect during its investigation and this was completely overlooked by the IPCC and the press. By scrutinizing the accounts, I was able to determine that approximately £50,000 of these allowances had been paid to Chief Constable Maxwell. I broke this story exclusively in Real Whitby on the 8th of June 2012:
“The allegations of misconduct narrated above are well known in the public domain. However, senior Officer Expenses are required to be published in full on the North Yorkshire Police Website and my investigation has revealed further cause for concern:
Chief Constable Maxwell also received the same allowance as Deputy Chief Constable Briggs and like DCC Briggs, has apparently not accounted for an estimated £50,000 of expenditure paid to him”.
The article went on to state:
“Scrutiny of his expenses shows that Chief Constable Maxwell has charged attendance at conferences and seminars in the UK, Amsterdam, Bahrain, Estonia and Copenhagen which should have been charged to his Development allowance, but was paid additionally as expenses of an additional £7,716.01.
The Chief Constable also charged expenditure to the Police for a visit to the Edinburgh Tattoo.”
I have not received any comment from North Yorkshire Police on the above concerns.
3. Senior Figure C: Deputy Chief Constable (formerly Acting Chief Constable) Tim Madgwick
Chief Constable Madgwick’s biography lists membership of the Special Olympics Group Board (SOGB) in his personal hobbies and interests, not as part of his police duties. Yet he has received reimbursements of expenses incurred as a result of his participation in his private hobby of voluntary work with SOGB from the police. This is a cause of concern because:
In my opinion, it is completely unacceptable for any public servant to have a special exemption to receive expenses for pursuing his hobby and constitutes another breach of financial control.
I have not received any comment from North Yorkshire Police on the above concerns, and – like former DCC Briggs – Deputy Chief Constable Madgwick has chosen not to respond, although he has had the opportunity to do so.
4. Senior Figure D:
On a number of occasions Senior Figure D charged overnight accommodation costs for a single days duty in London and other locations that appear to have been easily commutable in one day without the need for a stay in an expensive hotel.
I have not received any comment from North Yorkshire Police on the above concern, and – like DCC Madgwick and former DCC Briggs – Senior Figure D has chosen not to respond, despite being given the opportunity to do so.
5. Senior Figure E:
To be covered in a separate article.
6. Senior Figure F: Assistant Chief Constable Dave Collins
Assistant Chief Constable David Collins, who went off on the sick in November 2008, claiming stress, was still off work in June 2009, on half of his £100,000 per annum salary. An investigation by the North Yorkshire Police Authority discovered that at the same time he was promoting his life coaching consultancy service and offering mentoring services via the internet. When he discovered that the Police Authority wanted to take action against him he simply applied for retirement, thereby ensuring that no action would be taken and he received a six-figure sum for his 30 years of service. Jeremy Holderness, the Chief Executive of the North Yorkshire Police Authority, stated:
“Although the authority considered all options with regard to the conduct of Mr Collins in the circumstances, it was not possible to instigate formal disciplinary action against him as he was no longer a serving police officer”.
7. Senior Figure G: Superintendent Ackerley
Mrs Peta Ackerley the wife of the Police Superintendent in charge of NYPA police force training who received £385,438 from the force in payments to her training companies, companies which, according to an audit report, ‘often got work without going through proper procurement procedures’. Superintendent Ackerley escaped disciplinary action after his application to retire was accepted by Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell.
Phil Willis, M.P. for Harrogate and Knaresborough at the time, said:
Well, obviously not.
The response of the various individuals responsible for oversight and financial control in North Yorkshire Police to these matters.
Mr Jeremy Holderness, former Chief Executive of the former North Yorkshire Police Authority
Mr Jeremy Holderness, Chief Executive of the former North Yorkshire Police Authority, (who wrote to DCC Briggs and CC Maxwell exempting the Chief Officers allowances from accounting and audit) tried to claim that these allowances were lawful and made public statements to this effect:
As I stated in the original article on the 8th of June 2012, “put simply, that is a lie. Payments to senior executives cannot be exempted from audit or accounting by law. Both Mr Holderness and the Chief Financial Officer Ms Carter had a duty to bring this to the attention of the Auditor”.
The recent announcement by Police and Crime Commissioner Mulligan now confirms that this grave allegation was correct and contrary to what Mr Holderness claimed at the time, there was in fact no legal basis for the payments. I wrote to Mr Holderness asking him to give one single example of this type of allowance being used anywhere and he simply ignored my correspondence.
Councillor Carl Les, Member of the former North Yorkshire Police Authority Management Board
I wrote to Councillor Carl Les on June the 21st 2012 in the following terms:
“In his open letter dated 21st of May 2012, to Mr Julian Smith MP, Mr Holderness stated, “As always my members would be pleased to meet with you, or anyone, to discuss these and any other issues.”
On this basis Councillor Les, I would like to take up your offer. Please can you confirm a date in the very near future to meet”
Councillor Les did not respond.
Councillor Jane Kenyon, Chair of the former North Yorkshire Police Authority and of the former North Yorkshire Police Authority Management Board
I then made arrangements to attend at North Yorkshire Police Headquarters at Newby Wiske Hall, to conduct a Public Rights Inspection Under Section 15 of the Audit Commission Act 1998, my intention being to examine the accounts, contracts, PAYE returns and expenses claims to get to the bottom of this matter, in the public interest. The week before I was due to make the Public Rights Inspection, Councillor Jane Kenyon, Chair of the former North Yorkshire Police Authority and of the former North Yorkshire Police Authority Management Board tried to have me arrested for harassment.
Following a letter from Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson alleging she had enough evidence to arrest me and giving me twenty eight days to appear at a Police Station in North Yorkshire to be arrested, I duly arrived at Fulford Road Police Station, York to be arrested and interviewed under caution. I was questioned about the article dated the 8th of June 2012, which raised the above issues and was produced as evidence of my having committed a criminal offence by writing it. It soon emerged that there was no evidence of any offence, I was not in fact arrested, charged, cautioned, released on Police bail, given advice or even served with a harassment warning.
However – and revealingly – during the interview I was accused of having “damaged North Yorkshire Police” (which, although not an offence, was obviously the real crux of the matter) and given a letter from Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson on force headed paper, accusing me of publishing “misleading” and “unfounded” allegations against unnamed officers and staff of North Yorkshire Police, threatening me with civil action on their behalf and demanding that I remove all my articles from Real Whitby, which would of course have included the article dated 8th of June 2012 that revealed the above misuse of police funds.
Quite apart from the fact that a Detective Superintendent is a senior serving police officer employed to enforce criminal law, DS Pearson has no responsibility for civil matters and is not competent, or authorized, to comment on them. The Police and Crime Commissioner´s comments show that my allegations concerning DCC Briggs and CC Maxwell contained in the article were entirely accurate. Yet nevertheless, Detective Superintendent Pearson tried to intimidate me into withdrawing it. A clear abuse of police powers.
Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson:
This is perhaps a perfect example of suppressing criticism that Chief Constable Jones referred to when he made his reference to “the old way of doing business and keeping reports like these under lock and key”, which held sway prior to the arrival of Commissioner Mulligan and Chief Constable Jone – i.e. wen Deputy Chief Constable Madgwick was acting Chief Constable and Councillor Jane Kenyon was Chair of the North Yorkshire Police Authority.
Councillor Jane Kenyon has had the opportunity to comment on this article but has not done so
Ms Joanna Carter Chief Financial Officer of the North Yorkshire Police Authority (now Chief Executive of the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office) and Dr J Heeley, Police Authority Treasurer.
Having survived an interrogation under caution by two Detectives at Fulford Road Police Station on Friday the 27th of July, I was (I have to admit) somewhat shaken.
However, it takes more than the threat of arrest and imprisonment to stop a Chartered Accountant from completing an audit assignment. So, accordingly, I duly turned up at Newby Wiske Hall by appointment on the Monday the 30th of July 2012 to conduct the inspection of accounts under Section 15 of the Audit Commission Act, which allows any interested person to:
Although the Audit Commission had confirmed that I was entitled to see the ledger entries and supporting receipts of the expense claims and the Authority’s own notice stated that I could attend and see copies of all related books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts, when I arrived at Newby Wiske Hall for this purpose:
The basis for this refusal was that my enquiries constituted “identification of the individual”. Clearly it did not; and this ignores the fact that every named individual in whom I have expressed an interest is either a member of the Police Authority or a Chief Police Officer, and is therefore a public figure, publicly identified by name and photograph, who has implicitly accepted that he or she would be subject to this level of public scrutiny as a proper and appropriate consequence of the position to which each of them had been appointed.
Undeterred, I then wrote to Ms Carter, outlining my reasons for the request and asking her to voluntarily disclose the information I had requested, so that the above matters could be cleared up and I received an e mail from her with an attached letter from the Police Authority Treasurer Dr Heeley stating that I had received “all of the information you are lawfully entitled to”. Which is obviously not true and simply beggars belief.
Mr Mark Kirkham: Audit Commission District Auditor.
I wrote formally to the district auditor Mr Kirkham at the end of August 2012 formally raising my concerns and in particular that;
1). According to the evidence of the Police Authority and the IPCC, the Chief Officers Development Allowances had been excluded from the accounting and audit, although this is unlawful. “It is clear from press comment that the Chief Officers’ Development Allowances were not supported by any receipts for many years. In my view this should have been discovered by the audit and indicates that the Chief Officer’s Development Allowances were not in fact audited, as per the Police Authority statement.”
2). The Chief Constable’s and Deputy Chief Constable’s Development Allowance should not have been paid without deduction of tax or production of receipts. This could mean that the PAYE returns and forms P11D were inaccurate.
3). According to the IPCC, expenses had been approved by a PA who was not an appropriate approved signatory for approving expenses, indicating that there had been a complete failure of segregation of duties, approval limits and financial control.
His response is set out below:
“Thank you for bringing these points to my attention. I will treat them as information presented to me as part of my audit, consider their impact on my responsibilities, and report the results of any work that I carry out to management, the Authority and/or the public if I decide that is appropriate.”
This, of course, ignored the fact that, having been unlawfully prevented from conducting a Public Rights Inspection, it was impossible for me to provide the detail that Mr Kirkham required. The Public Rights Inspection is an important part of the financial controls and also of open democratic oversight of a public body. There was, in my view, enough information to justify the formal challenge to the accounts and for a report in the public interest to be issued.
Nevertheless, in October 2012 Mr Kirkham did go on to report to the Police Authority in his annual letter that unlawful payments of allowances had been made., as I had originally alleged to him.
The recent press activity and attempt to reclaim the funds follows the response of the Police & Crime Commissioner to the audit findings Mr Kirkham presented to the Police Authority. His views were made public during the meeting of the Police Authority in September 2012, leading directly to the failed attempt by Commissioner Mulligan to reclaim the funds from Chief Constable Maxwell and Deputy Chief Constable Briggs.
Chief Constable Dave Jones
Chief Constable Jones is refusing to release the transcript of the interview under caution or a copy of Councillor Jane Kenyon’s witness statement and is keeping them under lock and key. He is also refusing to respond to correspondence on this matter, on the basis that it is contrary to “the efficient and effective use of publicly funded resources”.
Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick
The allegations against me involve senior officers from North Yorkshire Police, the former Police Authority and the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. It should therefore have been investigated impartially by officers from another force. Instead, it was kept ‘in house’ and investigated by North Yorkshire Police.
Although my concerns have now been completely vindicated and it is clear that it was in the public interest to raise them, Deputy Chief Constable Madgwick recently wrote to me confirming that I still remain a suspect in the harassment of Councillor Jane Kenyon and threatened me with arrest and civil proceedings if I continued to comment or express opinions on North Yorkshire Police, which of course includes the above issues in which he is involved. This is despite the fact that he is personally involved in unresolved aspects of this case, has a vested interest in suppressing comment on it, and is currently directing a criminal investigation in which he has an absolutely blatant conflict of interest.
No other police force in the UK that I am aware of has had this level of financial misconduct cases over several years, which – when taken together – amount to arguably the worst case of mismanagement of police funds since the Deputy Finance Director of the Metropolitan Police was jailed for fraud in 1995.
It is important to state that there could be an innocent explanation for all of these matters. However, my concern is that there appears to be a cultural refusal by senior members of North Yorkshire Police to submit to lawful public scrutiny, any attempt to make it accountable for public money, or to accept press scrutiny. The situation appears symptomatic of an organisation suffering from:
It appears that my efforts have identified failures in financial control and, by raising this as an issue, I had hoped to assist in obtaining the repayment to police funds and improving standards of financial control.
This was clearly a lawful act and in the public interest, as was my attempt to conduct a Public Rights Inspection.
Whilst I understand that no one likes a whistleblower, the response of North Yorkshire Police has been to forward a file on me to the CPS and requested my prosecution for harassment, thereby making me the first Chartered Accountant in the history of the accounting profession to be threatened with arrest and prosecution, for helping the police to recover £100,000 of misappropriated public funds. This was done at the request of the then Chair of the former Police Authority – and its successor organization, the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, is apparently supporting this action.
A harassment complaint would normally be investigated by a Uniform Branch Constable. My case is being investigated by a team consisting of Deputy Chief Constable Madgwick, the Force Solicitor, Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson (arguably one of the most capable and formidable detectives in North Yorkshire Police CID), two of the most senior detectives in North Yorkshire Police CID (each with thirty years of experience of criminal investigations) and solicitors from the Crown Prosecution Service, who have now engaged specialist legal counsel.
I understand this is the level of police effort normally allocated to pursuing an armed and dangerous target criminal or a drug dealer and is obviously another misuse of police funds and (to quote Chief Constable Dave Jones) contrary to “the efficient and effective use of publicly funded resources”.
The strange case of Senior Figure E
The Audit Commission, Police and Crime Commissioner, North Yorkshire Police, Councillor Jane Kenyon and Commissioner Butts of the IPCC have all had the opportunity to comment on this article but have not done so.