The report that Steve Rush cites was sent to me by Ribble Valley Borough Council following a series of simple freedom of information requests to establish if the investigation into the complaint was carried out within the Law and the protocols of the council. The Council for some reason has provided this private and confidential report to me which does not have any relevance to the procedural questions asked. The report put before the sub committee has a substantial – section 18 pages missing in which I rebutted the conclusions, criticised the poor standard of investigation and lack of balance in the report. 3 pages are the response of the investigating officer to my comments in which it is conceded that as Conservative Leader and Leader of the Council I had discretion to nominate whoever I wished as party spokesmen which totally undermines the report.
This disclosed report has already been leaked to the press and has been along with a lot of the confidential papers, the subject of press stories last year. It was prepared by a council officer to put before a sub-committee for them to decide on the complaint made by Cllr Sue Bibby and has never been adjudicated upon. The investigating officer did not speak to any of the 13 potential witnesses (except 1) put forward in the initial response to the complaint. When this report was provided, detailed rebuttal was put to the committee and 16 statements and comments from witnesses prepared to answer it. All the witnesses confirmed the investigating officer did not speak to them.
The rebuttal of the officers’ conclusions states the investigation was wholly inadequate, one sided , showed the investigating officer had substituted her view for mine and that of the whole council, and failed to investigate the procedure of nomination of spokesmen in the Conservative party.
On the 13th September 2018 with this report , legal submissions and the 16 statements on the table, with some of the witnesses present, the Chief Executive Marshal Scott stepped in and stopped the adjudication of the complaint by councillors. I can find no power within the procedure to allow him to do this. The Chief Executive’s intervention resulted in the Investigating Officer not being questioned on her report conclusions and a further 10 month delay. It led to arguments for outside independent adjudicators to be appointed which were ignored. The Investigating Officer has since left RVBC for a more senior job elsewhere.
This report is like presentation of a police report before a criminal court. It deals with the accused person’s explanation in interview but not the defence evidence. It is therefore totally one-sided and can’t offer a balanced view. This report was never considered by the sub-committee or its conclusions tested. There have been no findings and the report remains unconsidered. The complaint should have been dealt with by adjudicators independent of RVBC appointed by the Local Government Association. The lawyers disagreed about this suggestion; my barrister advised it was possible whilst the council’s barrister said not. The matter has not been resolved by judicial review in a court.
When the Accounts and Audit Committee met and decided not to pursue the matter on 24th July 2019, I do not know with what they were provided if they had the full investigators report, rebuttal and 16 statements to consider.
I requested the committee papers dealing with the matter but was refused by the council monitoring officer. As the committee met in camera, I was not allowed to attend so could not make any representations personally or through my solicitors. The complainant Councillor Sue Bibby I am told was present throughout the deliberations. The committee’s decision not to pursue the matter means there is no examination of any evidence. The criticisms of the handling by Council Officers of the complaint, the 20 month delay, the failures of proper investigation, the stopping of the proceedings by the chief executive, the need for independent adjudication and the cost to the council tax payers of the process, will not be aired before a council committee. Time now for review and reform of this chaotic system.
This report was leaked to the Lancashire Evening Telegraph and other news outlets and used as the basis for news reports. The rebuttal and the additional witness statements were not leaked and therefore was not included in the article. A more detailed explanation can be found on my Facebook page, Kenneth H Hind and at http://kenhindbarrister.co.uk/ribble-valley-council-committee-unanmously-decides-not-to-pusue-complaint-against-former-council-leader-ken-hind-in-the-public-interest-the-answer-to-the-complaint-the-public-need-to-know/
The arguments countering the investigating officers’ conclusions simply put are that there was no breach of any principles in public life dealing with each in turn:
Category 1 – Appointment of Planning Chairman
The Leader of the Conservative Councillors Group makes the political decision to appoint party spokesmen who he nominates the Full Council as Chairmen of Committees when in control. The full Council then votes to appoint or reject the nominees. It is the Councillors, not the Leader, who make the appointment. In this case the Councillors voted without dissent to appoint 4 new Chairmen including my nomination of Councillor Alison Brown as Planning Chairman in May 2017 and again in May 2018. The Councillors have done so again in May 2019 when she was nominated by my successor. The Leader of the majority Council Group has full discretion as to whom he/she nominates and considers each on merit. Due to the length of time the Core Strategy/Borough Development Plan took to be finalised, the excessive house building in the Ribble Valley, the need to improve infrastructure, reorganise the planning department, appoint a new planning director, I considered a new Chairman was needed. This view was shared by many in the Conservative Councillors group who were consulted. Of particular concern was the officer’s proposal to reject the planning application for Holmes Mill. With Cllr Sue Bibby in the chair, councillors rejected the officer’s view and approved Holmes Mill.
The nomination of Planning Chairman was done on merit in the best interests of Borough residents. The Investigating Officer merely substituted her view for mine rather than looking properly at the procedure. When the Accounts and Audit Committee reviewed the case on the 24th July 2019 they knew that the Full Council appoints the Chairmen of Committees not the Council Leader as they themselves had appointed the present planning chairman at Full Council in May 2019.
Category 2 – Failure to support appointment of new Planning Director
Cllr Sue Bibby did not support the Conservative Councillor’s agreed position on the appointment of a Planning and Economic Development Director to lead a re-organised planning department when it came before the Policy and Finance Committee for approval. Under the Conservative Councillors Group rules if a Councillor does not wish to support an agreed position of the Group for conscience or ward interest reasons, the Group Leader or Chief Whip has to be notified as the proposal could be lost in committee. In this case Cllr Sue Bibby did not notify either the Leader or Chief Whip. However, in the interests of unity of the group I did absolutely nothing about this and no report went to the Conservative Councillor’s group for them to take any disciplinary measures. The Chief Whip made a statement to rebut the conclusions of the Investigating Officer which was one of the statements submitted to the sub- committee.
Category 3 – Creation of a Dementia Friendly Council
It was very important to establish the Council as dementia friendly and but was a dispute between the RVBC Chairman of Health and Housing Committee and the Chairman of Ribble Valley Dementia Action Alliance as to who led this process with which I had to deal as Leader. I investigated the matter, discovered the Council had not recognised RVDAA nor approved officer support for it due to the failure of officers to bring the matter to committee. I recommended to the Health and Housing Committee that Cllr Sue Bibby should sit on a working group to establish how the council becomes dementia friendly. I proposed in the working group a solution divided into 2 parts. In the community the Council would form a partnership with the RVDAA, work with them and formally approve officer support for this. Internally in the Council the Health and Housing Committee would direct Officers to deal with training of staff organised by HR. This was supported by all members of the Working Group, including Councillor Sue Bibby, ratified by the Health and Housing Committee and approved by Full Council.
I contacted the Alzheimers Society for advice and during the process, met with senior committee members of the RVDAA who I reassured that the Council would support them and work with them in partnership, the seriousness of our intentions to become Dementia Friendly, the fact the Council did not want to takeover the RVDAA and did not criticise Cllr Sue Bibby. In no way was she undermined and is still RVDAA chairman today but in a much stronger position. All the people who could offer evidence about this were not spoken to by the Investigating Officer. Statements and comments were gathered and then submitted to the sub- committee to rebut these erroneous conclusions made by the Investigating Officer.
Ribble Valley Borough Council Accounts and Audit Committee decided unanimously after 20 months not to investigate a complaint against Ken Hind former Ribble Valley Council Leader as it was not in the public interest.
Ken Hind commented ‘’The complaint was made by Councillor Sue Bibby, former Planning Committee Chairman that I was dishonest, lacked leadership, integrity, openness, objectivity, veracity and had bullied her as I did not nominate her as planning chairman. She failed to recognise that Council leaders recommend to the Full Council annually nominees for chairmanship and all councillors vote in Full Council to approve those nominations. Full Council voted to appoint Councillor Alison Brown who I nominated for the post as Planning Chairman in May 2017 and again in May 2018. There was no debate and no one opposed my recommendation which I made in the public interest. My successor as Leader recommended in May 2019 the same Councillor Allison Brown be reappointed again which the Full Council voted to approve. In May 20017 as Leader I did not nominate 4 of the existing chairmen but only one chose to make any complaint, Sue Bibby. She was certainly not bullied. Councillors should not put their personal ambitions before the community they serve.
As the Leader of the Council I had to put the interests of the community first and that meant nominating the best people to carry important functions for the benefit of the public. If I was placed in the same position again I would make the same decision – in the public interest.
My reasons for recommending Dr Allison Brown as Chairman of Planning was due to the major disquiet amongst the public that too many houses were being built in the Ribble Valley and there was a need for a more vigorous infrastructure policy. In addition the planning department needed reorganising with the appointment of a qualified planning and economic development director to head it. A 5 year review of the Borough’s Development Plan covering all aspects of planning including housing was due to start. There was a need to create an Economic Development Committee to drive the local economy and formulate a plan for business and job creation for the Borough particularly covering our town centres: Clitheroe, Whalley and Longridge.
Following consultation with a number of my fellow Conservative councillors we felt that Sue Bibby did not enjoy the confidence of a large number of the Conservative Councillors in our group. The last straw which convinced me that there was a need for a fresh approach from a new planning chairman was when the Planning Committee was faced with a recommendation from planning officers to reject the development of Holmes Mill in Clitheroe. Councillor Sue Bibby was in the chair supporting the planning officer’s view but fortunately the majority of Borough Councillors on the planning committee rejected their view and subsequently approved the development which now consists of a brewery, hotel, restaurants, bars, live performance areas, shops, hairdresser and offices. All these facilities will soon be added to by a gym complex and Everyman Cinema with 4 screens. This is the most important commercial development in Clitheroe for 30 years resulting in the creation of over 200 jobs and helped to rejuvenate part of Clitheroe. This will be complemented in the near future by the adjacent creation of the council supported wildlife park at Primrose Lodge by Ribble Rivers Trust.
When it came to a vote on the appointment of the new Planning and Economic Development Director Councillor Sue Bibby did not support the agreed Conservative Councillors Group view. Despite the fact she was in breach of our rules by failing to tell the Chief Whip of her disagreement, we took no action against her. Her refusal to support this essential policy reinforced my view that the appointment of Councillor Brown was correct.
After May 2017 the team of Chairmen appointed by the Council along with our fellow Conservative councillors delivered the management reorganisation, a new planning director, a new Economic Development committee, refocusing RVBC policy to drive the local economy. They also rejected participation in the Lancashire Combined Authority. We all recognised that being the Chairman of a Council Committee is not a job with employment rights, but a public appointment. It is a privilege to serve the people of the Ribble Valley and we all recognised this as well as the need to work as a team in their interests. There is no ‘I’ in team.
There were only 7 people who had the complaint papers including myself, Sue Bibby, 2 council officers and 3 councillors who were appointed to examine the complaint, which included the Leader of the Lib Dem Opposition Allan Knox. One of these chose to either leak or pass the complaint papers to someone who then passed part of them to the press which only gave the press Councillor Sue Bibby’s complaint against me and does not, I believe, include any of my responses. This led to attacks on social media by trolls, keyboard warriors and political opponents who did not know the details. I was reported to the police by an anonymous person. For what I do not know, the police dismissed it without even requesting me to attend for an interview. I have asked the Chief Constable for the name of the complainant and details of the dismissed complaint.
It was also reported in the press that I was being investigated by Conservative Central Office. No complaints were sent to me by CCHQ to respond to and quite the contrary I was elected campaign organiser and agent to 59 council candidates in the Ribble Valley and South Ribble Borough Council for the May elections. For the same election I was appraised and selected as a candidate with no opposition from CCHQ.
Out of respect for the complaints procedure I made no comment on the issues in the complaint despite learning for the first time from the press that I was being investigated by the police and CCHQ. As the result of these press accounts my reputation has been rubbished on social media which I believe was a contributory factor in my losing in the local election by 29 votes.
In my initial response to the complaint I pointed to a number of witnesses who could assist in my case, only one of whom was interviewed. In response to the hopelessly inadequate council investigators report I produced a response to the complaint and 16 witness statements and comments in rebuttal of Sue Bibbys allegations. I will publish on my web site this evidence (with the consent of those who made the statements). The public are entitled to know the truth.
In the 20 months it has taken RVBC to resolve this complaint I have been maligned, criticised and abused. My family have suffered huge stress. It illustrates the complaints procedure at local councils, based on the Localism Act 2011 is chaotic, not fit for purpose and unworkable. In a small Council like Ribble Valley, where everyone knows everyone else’s business, there should be provision for independent, objective and unbiased scrutiny of complaints against councillors by assessors independent of RVBC. Within the complaint process, on the advice of solicitors and counsel I argued for impartial independent unbiased fair and objective adjudication by independent assessors appointed by the Local Government Association. The RVBC, unlike councils elsewhere in this country, has no specific procedure for dealing with complaints made by councillor against councillor.
The complaints procedure has resulted in my case in delay, maladministration, a failure to properly investigate the complaint and inappropriate interference from officers. All this needs looking into by councillors themselves and is now subject to complaints for them to consider. One of my last acts as Leader of the Council along with other councillors was to instruct the Chief Executive to bring forward a reformed procedure to deal with complaints against councillors; the public are still waiting 9 months down the line.
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 followed 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. Chief Constable Called upon to Disclose Name of person who made Dismissed Complaints against former Council Leader
”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 story 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 who complained that she was not nominated as a Chairman of a committee Ribble Valley Borough Council have decided not to pursue.
Lancashire Barrister Ken Hind and Blackburn Solicitors Simon Farnsworth, Deborah Morgan of FMB took on the case of Mary Kidson a local woman from Nelson, who had moved to live in Herefordshire and secured her acquittal in a landmark case that could have long term impacts on suffers from thyroid and cortisol hormone deficiencies throughout the NHS .
Ken Hind commented ‘’We were initially approached by Mary Kidson’s family to take this case and we undertook it as this was the kind of case which we came into this profession to deal with and protect the man and woman in the street where we see the state has got things wrong. FMB is a medium sized 3 partner firm of solicitors who instructed me as an independent member of the bar’’
Mary Kidson’s daughter suffered with a number of physical problems , primarily she was constantly fatigued, had low blood pressure , lack of energy, pain in muscles and joints plus other problems. She was seen by 5 endocrine paediatric consultants in the NHS – 4 of whom discharged her saying there was nothing wrong with her as it was all in the mind . Mary did not believe this , she researched on the internet , read books on hormone deficiency and accessed the web sites of Thyroid UK and the Thyroid Patients Advocacy Forum . She was convinced her daughter had deficiencies in cortisol, thyroid and oestrogen .
Taking advantage of section 13 in the Medicines Act 1968 she ordered hormones from accredited pharmacies on the internet . She consulted Dr Durrant Peatfield an unregistered physician who had been criticised by the GMC for his views expressed in his book on the Thyroid Gland (can be downloaded off Amazon) who approved her treatments . She was still concerned to have a registered physician directing her daughter’s treatment and was recommended to Dr Thierry Hertoghe , the President of the International Hormone Society with 3000 physician members worldwide. Dr Hertoghe has written 7 books including the Hormone Manual , one of the leading text books for physicians practising abroad in this field.
Mary took her daughter to Brussels where Dr Hertoghe carried out tests on 40 hormones and minerals , far more than carried out by the NHS and diagnosed chronic fatigue syndrome caused by hormone deficiencies. He prescribed hormones and nutrients and treated her for 5 months .
On the 5th March 2013 without having spoken to Mary, social workers and police officers turned up at her home & arrested her, took her daughter into interim care where she was placed with foster carers whom she did not know her for 2 months. Doctors examined Mary’s daughter who they said had nothing wrong with her, made no contact with Dr Hertoghe to ask about diagnosis and treatments , despite the fact he wrote to the police , doctors in the case and social services 3 times. NHS doctors ended all the hormone treatments. Mary’s daughter was interviewed on videotape by the police and said she felt better as a consequence of the treatments.
9 months later in January 2014, the police charged Mary Kidson with poisoning her daughter unlawfully and maliciously causing grievous bodily harm or endangering her life. Mary was only able to see her daughter for 2 hours a fortnight and that was under the supervision of a social worker until April 2014 . In breach of her bail conditions Mary was phoning and texting her daughter in response to requests for help and reassurance. Mary was remanded in custody to prison for 6 months for a breach of this bail condition, her daughter was certified under the Mental Health Act and sent to a psychiatric hospital where she remains.
The case came to Worcester Crown Court for trial for 3 weeks .Deborah Morgan who prepared the case for trial commented ‘ One of our first requirements was to speak to Mary ‘s 16 year old daughter as the prosecution declined to call her but Hereford Social Services blocked it at every turn. Eventually a psychiatrist appointed by the defence was allowed into the hospital to speak to her, he found she was fit to give evidence and wanted to do so on behalf of her mother as she was within 2 weeks of being discharged by her psychiatrist. I turned up at the hospital to see her and was told I could not do so because Herefordshire Social Services blocked it. Eventually I was allowed in after application to the trial Judge which Herefordshire Social Services fiercely resisted in court.
Ken Hind stated ‘’ Mary Kidson’s defence was that as a loving caring mother who had struggled for years with her daughter’s ill health she only wanted to see her get well, develop normally and have a happy, fulfilled adult life. After 11 days in court, evidence from 5 consultants, 2 social workers , a forensic scientist and police officers , the Judge directed the jury to acquit Mary Kidson as there was no evidence of grievous bodily harm (accepted by the prosecution) and that the alleged victim’s life had not been endangered. ‘’
At the centre of the case was the treatment of NHS doctors for thyroid hormone deficiency. Dr Hertoghe from Brussels who gave evidence described the NHS as 40 years behind in this area of treatment. He commented that the NHS only treats patients when they are 70% hormone deficient, where he and his colleagues treat when the patient is 25-30% deficient . A major point of argument was the use of natural dessicated thyroid or liothyronine a drug prescribed by Dr Hertoghe. The Royal College of Physicians directive for treatment of thyroid deficiency is the prescribing of levythyroxine which is an artificial type of thyroid hormone T4. This is converted by the body into T3 the main active ingredient of thyroid production and very necessary to sustain quality life. Doctors are disciplined by the GMC for stepping outside the dictat. There are estimated to be 1.3 million NHS patients who are thryroid deficient. For about a million of these patients levythyroxine works. For the remaining 300,000 their problems are different as their bodies cannot convert T4 to T3 in sufficient quantities.
Sheila Turner the Chairman of the Thyroid Patient Advocacy Forum commented thus ‘’ I suffered symptoms similar to Mary’s daughter, I found a doctor who diagnosed my problem and prescribed T3. My life was revolutionised – I felt normal again. The Forum had 1.25 million hits on its web site in just the months April and May this year to give some idea of the extent of the problem. We have seen 10,500 people who have come to seek meaningful information and guidance.
‘’ The defence team ,Deborah Morgan , Sue Hind (researcher) and me are actually all strong supporters of the NHS , believing health care should be available tax funded at the point of delivery. To quote Dr Fraser however, the leading paediatrician for the prosecution in the witness box ,’’ The NHS does not always get it right’’
‘’Thyroid UK one of the 2 major organisations campaigning for change have called for the government to fund research on the use of T3 in the NHS. They have placed on the Parliamentary web site an e petition , currently signed by 7130 people. We ask you to sign this petition as if 100,000 sign there will be a parliamentary debate on this very subject and some positive good will come out of the tragic case of Mary Kidson. If the politicians listen to the views of many doctors throughout the world the whole issue can be is resolved by properly funded research for the benefit of many NHS patients .
‘’Meanwhile Mary Kidson will fight in the courts for the return of her daughter. During our conduct of the case we have discovered that this is not an isolated tragedy which are mainly dealt with in Family Courts where anxious parents have been threatened with removal of their children into care . This has also been true in the case of ME sufferers, a condition very similar in some respects to chronic fatigue syndrome’’
Fund research into T3 and/or natural desiccated thyroid treatment for hypothyroidism
Responsible department: Department of Health
Many patients with hypothyroidism continue to have symptoms on levothyroxine (T4) but find that their symptoms are often greatly reduced when they take liothyronine (T3) or natural desiccated thyroid.
Natural desiccated thyroid is only manufactured in the US and Canada but can be prescribed in the UK on a “named patient” basis. Many doctors will not prescribe it because there are no randomised controlled trials as it was manufactured before licensing of medicines came into being.
Research has shown that some patients have benefited from natural desiccated thyroid but there needs to be more research done to investigate whether this would be a better treatment for patients.
More research also needs to be done on the addition of T3 to T4 because previous research has been inconclusive.
2 On the first day of the trial the Wye Valley Health Trust from which 3 of the paediatric consultants called for the prosecution came, was put into special measures by the Department of Health.
Ken Hind has set up a new virtual barrister’s chambers on the internet which he has called Newton Chambers to practice criminal Law across Lancashire and the North of England.
As he describes it ‘Newton Chambers is the apple that fell from the tree of the network of criminal barristers chambers up and down the country. For those of us that deal with criminal cases on legal aid in the Crown Courts the expense of expensive chambers can no longer be justified in this technological age.