Ken Hind, former Leader of Ribble Valley Council and Lancashire MP has called on the Chief Constable Andrew Rhodes and the Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw to provide the name of the person and details of a complaint made against him leading to a police investigation which resulted in no action being taken. There followed press stories and destructive social media comment which had the impact of severely damaging his reputation and harming his electoral chances in the May 2019 council elections.
Ken Hind commented ” The first I knew about any police investigation was when I read it in a newspaper. I immediately got in touch with the police and offered to go to a police station to be interviewed to answer any complaint, but the officer in charge of the investigation told me there was no need. A few weeks later the police informed me that they had looked into it, they were not pursuing it and there was no need to attend a police station. The officer was courteous but said she could not tell me who had made the complaint or what it was about.”
”What the press stories were personal unpleasant attacks from trolls and key board warriors on social media which could only be described as crowd bullying. Political opponents made much in their leaflets to gain political advantage. The combined impact of this was to rubbish my reputation and influence voters against me which I encountered on the doorstep. These press stories still appear on the internet.
”This means that an anonymous person with their identity protected, can make malicious allegations against public figures that have no merit, without being named and shamed or called to account. This represents a sign of the decline in standard in public life referred to by Theresa May in her speech this week. The Chief Constable needs to make sure the police are not used in this way to undermine those in public life. Investigations should only be made known to the public if they result in charges, otherwise the result is being convicted in the court of public opinion without trial.
”This press stories in local papers included that I was also being investigated by Conservative Central Headquarters which again I knew nothing about and added to the attacks from the key board warriors and facebook sites. CCHQ have again confirmed this week that I am not being investigated. Before the May council election I was appraised and selected as a Conservative council candidate in the Ribble Valley. In March 2018 and again in 2019 at the AGM I was elected by the 400 plus members of the Ribble Valley Conservative Association as Campaign Manager and Agent to all 59 Conservative candidates in the Ribble Valley Parliamentary constituency. With a team I appraised, selected, wrote and directed the campaign for every Conservative candidate in the Ribble Valley Borough and acted as Agent for 19 South Ribble Borough council candidates, 40 of whom were elected.
” As the number of newspaper journalists decline and everyone becomes their own newscaster on social media platforms there is a need for the platform promoters to police the content on their sites put up by key board warriors in order to avoid libel, fake news and abuse. There is a difference between sensible political comment and criticism, with which we can all live,and uninformed abuse which generates fake news by people with no knowledge of the true facts.
The danger is the public accepts these uninformed comments which then becomes the damaging accepted truth. This is the intention of those who make the initial comments. As a supporter and user of social media I can see that it is a great tool of communication, but any abuses need to be controlled. If the social media platforms will not do it themselves then they should be made to do so by legislation.”
The original complaint made by a councillor made in November 2017 that she was not reappointed as the Borough Council Chairman after 20 months has yet to be resolved.