Resign, Tom FOX! Spare Scarborough Council Further Disrepute
- an ‘In My View’ article by NIGEL WARD, outlining the case for the immediate resignation of Scarborough Borough Council Leader, Councillor Tom FOX – formerly Chief Inspector Tom FOX of the (Scarborough) North Yorkshire Police – following his wildly misleading statement to Full Council.
IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
On Friday 28th 2014, the Yorkshire Coast Radio published the following article:
“Leader Of Scarborough Borough Council Responds To Jaconelli Allegations”
7:15pm 28th 2014
The leader of Scarborough Borough Council, Tom Fox, has issued a statement about the allegations of historical sexual abuse by the late Peter Jaconelli, former Mayor of the Borough of Scarborough.
Tom Fox read out the statement at a full council meeting this afternoon.
He said: . . . “
I now intend to reproduce Leader Tom FOX’s statement paragraph-by-paragraph, so that I can address each of his assertions, individually.
“Members will no doubt have read or heard of distressing allegations raised by members of the public in relation to the former mayor of this borough, the late Peter Jaconelli. It is most important that members of this council and the public are informed of the actions the council has taken, and continues to take, in relation to this matter.”
The ‘members of the public’ to whom Tom FOX refers were, in fact, victims of Peter JACONELLI. Several of them contacted Real Whitby, having failed to elicit any response from Scarborough Borough Council. A detailed time-line of some of that attempted correspondence with SBC is presented in my article, published on 29th September 2013, entitled “SBC Solicitor: Unforgivable Incompetence – or Something Worse?”.
Lisa DIXON – the eponymous “SBC Solicitor” – has never contacted me to object to the information provided in that article, or to contest any element of it. Given her proclivity for issuing legal threats based on spurious allegations of crime and defamation, which – as the BBC programme made abundantly clear – she was unable to substantiate with any evidence of wrongdoing against myself, chartered accountant Tim HICKS F.C.A., and Tim THORNE (the team that has collated the Peter JACONELLI allegations – and also Real Whitby proprietor Glenn KILPATRICK), readers may readily conclude that the Council has done everything it can to suppress information on the Peter JACONELLI allegations.
On that basis, Tom FOX’s assertion that it is important for members of the Council and members of the public to be aware of the Council’s actions is laughable – the Council’s actions have been lamentable and the Councillors and public are aware only because Real Whitby has made them aware.
[TF's statement continues . . .] “I make no apology if I repeat information which is already in the public domain. It is critical that with a matter of this importance, all of us are clear as to the weight the council has placed on these allegations and the subsequent processes, which have been put in place to ensure that the criminal allegations are thoroughly investigated by the correct authorities.”
The “weight the council has placed on these allegations” is a two-sided coin. Publicly, the Council has all but ignored the allegations. Tom FOX himself has ignored, and continues to ignore, my oft-repeated public interest question, first raised over a year ago on 18th February 2013:
- “What is the intention of the Leader in respect of the many serious allegations, every bit as horrific as those against Jimmy SAVILE, against former Councillor and Mayor Peter JACONELLI, in respect of his status as Alderman of the Borough. Is there a process in train for the Council to adopt the same approach as in the SAVILE case?”
Conversely, within the private enclave that is the Town Hall, the Peter JACONELLI scandal has aroused concern verging on panic. Every Council employee is aware, as the general public is aware – and has been for half a century – that Peter JACONELLI was a predatory and serial homosexual paedophile and a close associate of Jimmy SAVILE. Tom FOX’s personal interest in the current furore is that he served the vast majority of his service with the North Yorkshire Police in Scarborough. It is virtually impossible to believe that he alone in Scarborough was unaware of Peter JACONELLI’s sexual predilections. As the former Chief Inspector in charge of the Scarborough Police and in his current role as Leader of SBC, his opportunity (and responsibility) for awareness of the truth about Peter JACONELLI arguably exceeds that of any other figure of authority.
[TF's statement continues . . .] “Following allegations received some twelve months ago by this council into serious sexual offending against children and young people by the late Peter Jaconelli, this council immediately engaged with North Yorkshire Police to ensure a proper criminal investigation could be undertaken.”
In fact, the first allegations about Peter JACONELLI were made in October 2012 by the Sunday Express, followed up sharply by Real Whitby. North Yorkshire Police initially publicly denied that Jimmy SAVILE had any connection with Scarborough at all:
- “When the allegations surrounding Jimmy Savile were publicised, we carried out extensive searches of force records which did not reveal a local connection”.
In response to an IPCC investigation, NYP maintained that it had no intelligence whatever on Peter JACONELLI, or on his association with Jimmy SAVILE – although their close friendship had been featured on the BBC and in the press, and every schoolboy and parent in Scarborough knew of Peter JACONELLI’s activities.
Only since the BBC ‘Inside Out’ documentary was broadcast has former Scarborian Trevor HARRINGTON, been contacted by the North Yorkshire Police – by telephone, by Safer Neighbourhood beat bobby PC Jon GRAINGE, best know for his pursuit of a stolen push-bike in Thirsk.
If SBC can be relied upon to comply with the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (and its failure to do so over recent years is thoroughly documented), we shall soon know (by no later than 27th March 2014) precisely how many communications have been received by Tom FOX, CEO Jim DILLON and Director of Legal & Democratic Services Lisa DIXON – and on what dates, at what times. Many of those communications have been forwarded to Real Whitby – along with the follow-up (if any) from the North Yorkshire Police – so it will be a very simple matter to determine who has been the less diligent – the Council or the Police.
[TF's statement continues . . .] “The reports received by the council were forwarded to the police and a police investigation commenced. Subsequently, further reports were submitted to the police as a consequence of publicity given to the allegations. These reports are being considered by the police as part of the ongoing investigation, which was triggered by the council’s initial referrals.”
So, “a police investigation commenced”, did it? Let me remind readers of what I have reported elsewhere; following several hours of interview with detectives from Operation Yewtree (DS Ivon BEER and DC Laura DAY) in April 2013, we were informed that the evidence that we had provided had been passed to North Yorkshire Police, who would be contacting us in due course to progress the investigation. We have NEVER been approached by North Yorkshire Police and they have NEVER requested access to any of the evidence that we have amassed.
And let me emphasise that DC Alison MORRIS’s attempt at contacting Trevor HARRINGTON on 26th November 2013, was sent to another person’s email address, previously provided to NYP by Lisa DIXON, and has still never been received by Trevor HARRINGTON.
So much for “triggered by the council’s initial referrals”. In truth, the investigations were triggered by a series of articles published by Tim HICKS, here on Real Whitby, and underscored by the allegations of many members of the public who overcame their fear of disbelief and ridicule to come forward and post compelling statements in public in the ‘Comments’ sections beneath the Real Whitby articles.
Even the North Yorkshire Police Press Statement (which SBC Deputy CEO Hilary JONES refused to circulate to all Councillors) acknowledges that the investigation was being re-opened in response to the BBC ‘Inside Out’ documentary and its scrutiny of the Real Whitby allegations, so Tom FOX’s assertion – “These reports are being considered by the police as part of the ongoing investigation, which was triggered by the council’s initial referrals.” - is a complete fabrication.
[TF's statement continues . . .] “The police have conducted and continue to conduct their enquiry into these most serious and historical sexual offending allegations. As part of this process and the council’s engagement with the police, I have this week received confirmation from the police that they expect their investigations to be concluded shortly.”
The first sentence of this paragraph has already been de-constructed.
The second sentence beggars belief. It stands in direct conflict with information passed to me from within NYP.
A significant (and growing) number of victims have been in contact with NYP – whose own public statement, asked only for the witnesses put up by the BBC ‘Inside Out’ documentary (just a representative sample of five) to come forward. Why not appeal to all the victims? Who will consider their evidence? Very, very few have reported any interest from NYP. Indeed, one of the ‘five’ has posted on Real Whitby – under the pseudonym ‘Timeonmyhands’ (I know who he is) – making it clear that NYP has been making no authentic effort whatsoever to pursue sources of evidence cited on Real Whitby again and again over the past twelve months. I have been in direct contact with this witness regularly since 26th September 2013, when he reported to me that he had received no response from SBC to his complaint of 21st February 2013, other than this brief email, from Tom FOX, reproduced verbatim:
Re: Ex Mayor Jaconelli
Thank you for your e-mail re the above person.
I have forwarded your e-mail to our Director of Legal Services for her information and attention.
Again, thank you for the information.
Most sincerely, tom fox
Note that there is no reference at all to a referral to the North Yorkshire Police by Tom FOX or anybody else at SBC. To say that the fifth paragraph of Tom FOX’s statement to Council was economical with the truth is an understatement of monumental proportions.
As to the assertion that the investigation is expected “to be concluded shortly”, my information is that the decision has been made at the highest level to place the JACONELLI investigation in the hands of a career Detective who has served many years with the Metropolitan Police, and who is known to pursue every last shred.
[TF's statement continues . . .] “There should be no doubt that, if the police conclude that these allegations are credible and founded, as Leader of this council, I will not hesitate to bring forward a motion seeking the removal of all civic honours from the offender.”
The first clause of that sentence is no more than a truism – and has been valid since former Councillor Geoff EVANS very bravely and honourably first went public with his own allegations in the Scarborough News article “Ex-mayor was a sex pest” on 22nd February2013 – over a year ago. There can be no doubt that the allegations against Peter JACONELLI are credible and founded. Why are we waiting?
But as for the second sentence – “I will not hesitate” . . . how can the Leader make that claim in the face of over a year of prevarication? Let Tom FOX look former Councillor Geoff EVANS – who he berated down the telephone as a trouble-maker – in the eyes and claim that he “will not hesitate”? Let Tom FOX look Trevor HARRINGTON in the eyes and say that. I have been privy to the full unedited version of Trevor HARRINGTON’s interview to the BBC in Australia and to the entirety (such as it was) of Trevor HARRINGTON’s correspondence on this matter. He has never even received an apology from Tom FOX or Lisa DIXON for his personal concerns being emailed to a wrong address.
Incidentally, in it interesting to note that the Scarborough News has not made any reference to the JACONELLI scandal since then – nor the Whitby Gazette at all. Only the Yorkshire Post, amongst Johnston Press titles, has reported Tom FOX’s much-belated reaction to the pressure from Real Whitby.
[TF's statement concludes] “In the meantime, I note that this council publicly praises the courage of all victims of sexual offences who come forward to report such heinous crimes. Following on from “Giving Victims a Voice” we recognise and have empathy with all victims, whatever the offender, whatever the situation, including empathy and support for those who have yet to come forward.”
When did the Council “publicly praise” the courage of the victims. Where was this “public praise” when former Councillor Geoff EVANS stood up to be counted? Getting bawled out at the other end of a phone.
Not one of the victims who has come forward and shared their experiences and correspondence with Real Whitby has, to my certain knowledge, reported receiving a single word of compassion or sympathy from North Yorkshire Police, or from Tom FOX or from any other elected member or paid public servant within Scarborough Borough Council. In my view, this is the most scurrilous lie of all.
The plain truth is that the victims have been largely ignored by the Police and the Council, whose only significant action has been to attempt to “terminate” Real Whitby to prevent further criticism – only to be caught out, by BBC ‘Inside Out’ presenter by Chris JACKSON, in a completely false denial of having made that attempt.
In my view, Tom FOX and his minions have been motivated only by a determination not to endure any negative fall-out from their duplicitous position in relation to the Peter JACONNELLI scandal.
And Tom FOX, in particular, has a huge and undeclared personal interest in the outcome of this horrible saga of denial. As prime custodian of the public trust, first as Scarborough’s ‘top cop’, now as Leader of the Borough Council, his duty to openness and transparency exceeds that of any other public figure in the Borough.
Likewise, his duty of care to the citizens – and most especially, the children – of the Borough is second to none.
And speaking of ‘duty of care’, please allow me to draw to readers attention to the BBC report on the High Court decision handed down on Friday 28th February 2014 in the favour of six victims of serial rapist John WARBOYS, who have successfully sued the Metropolitan Police in respect of failure in their duty of care:
- “The judge said there had been a “series of systemic failings” by the Met, which had failed to cut short [Worboys'] five to six-year spree of violent attacks’.”
The North Yorkshire Police, including many of Tom FOX’s contemporaries, will be ruminating, as I write, about the ramifications of their failing of the victims of Peter JACONELLI and Jimmy SAVILE’s fifty-year “spree of violent attacks”.
A ‘class action’ would appear to me to be eminently possible. Some enterprising lawyer will be looking at that right now.
Speaking for myself, I am appalled and disgusted by this utterly disingenuous statement from Tom FOX.
The truth is that the Council on which he serves as Leader (Leader, mark you) has been shown to have conducted a flawed correspondence with victims (wrongly addressed email response) – either as a result of astonishing professional incompetence, or (and this, of course, is of far greater concern) as a result of a deliberate policy of obfuscation, prevarication and extraordinary dishonesty.
The Council has also been shown to have conducted a flawed correspondence with the North Yorkshire Police (by providing a wrong email address for Trevor HARRINGTON), thereby potentially implicating the Director of Legal & Democratic Services Lisa DIXON.
No amount of attempted sophistry on the part of Tom FOX (or his script-writer) can disguise those facts.
There has been something rotten in the Borough of Scarborough for a very long time.
Following this wildly misleading statement in Council, the clean-up must surely begin with the immediate resignation, from all public office, of Councillor Tom FOX.
Private Eye references: