Need for Reform of the Ribble Valley Council Complaints Procedure and throughout local government – Letter Clitheroe Advertiser Editor

Dear Mr Daggett

Following your article on page 4 of last week’s edition I would like to correct a number of misconceptions that the public may have drawn from it concerning why Councillor Sue Bibby was not reappointed Planning Chairman in 2017 and the procedure then followed by the Ribble Valley Borough Council.

As a new leader of the council I had to nominate Conservative spokesmen who were then appointed as Committee Chairmen by all the Councillors in Full Council. I recommended Councillor Alison Brown as Planning Chairman who the Full Council duly voted to appoint in 2017, again in 2018 and also in 2019 when nominated by my successor. I did not nominate 3 other of my predecessor’s chairmen but none of them objected or made a complaint that I was bullying them. Contrary to your article, the whole of Ribble Valley Borough Council ratified the appointment of the Planning Committee Chairman, not myself.

Leaders of Councils are required to nominate Chairman on merit to provide the best people to lead council committees. There was a need in May 2017 for a fresh approach to planning due to concerns over excessive house building and lack of new infrastructure spending particularly in Clitheroe. We needed to reorganise the planning department, recruit a specialist Planning and Economic Development Director and start an Economic Development Committee, all of which we subsequently did. Councillor Sue Bibby had not recommended to the Council any of these proposals and did not support the Conservative Councillor’s Group view to appointing a planning director in committee.

One of my major reasons for seeking a change in the post of Planning Chairman was that Councillor Bibby had presided over the Planning Committee which considered the application to develop Holmes Mill. The planning officers recommended refusal. Fortunately councillors rejected the officer’s advice and approved the application. Holmes Mill now employs over 200 people in the hotel, restaurants, shops, bars and offices. A gym and a 4 screen Everyman cinema will be added in the near future. It is the most significant commercial development in Clitheroe for 30 years, attracting large numbers of visitors. When the development is completed it will contribute over £750,000 in business rates which will benefit Ribble Valley council tax payers.

My role as Leader was to act in the best interests of the community and nominate the most capable people to lead council committees. If I had to make that decision again I would make the same decision.

The complaints procedure against Councillors in the Ribble Valley Borough is in chaos, shown by the fact that this complaint could not be resolved in 20 months. At a hearing on the 3rd September 2018 the Chief Executive faced with 16 statements and comments from witnesses countering the complaint, stopped the whole process and announced his officers could not deal with it, which resulted in delaying the matter for another 10 months.

Complaints against councillors are decided by a sub committee of 3 councillors based on political balance as a consequence the Leader of the Opposition, Alan Knox Leader of the Opposition was on the sub committee dealing with the complaint against me. He had criticised me on social media, in his leaflets, moved a motion of no confidence in council – all legitimate political activity. However Jeremy Corbyn would not be allowed to sit on a sub committee in Parliament to judge a complaint against Boris Johnson as it would not be considered fair, impartial and unbiased. Councillor Knox at least resigned twice from the sub committee when I complained, but this delayed consideration further. A close friend of Councillor Sue Bibby also sat on the sub -committee.

Far from refusing to take part in a sub-committee procedure as suggested by Chief Executive Marshal Scott, I argued for outside independent adjudication by the Local Government Association, supported by advice from my counsel and solicitor. In this I was supported by the main Accounts and Audit Committee who voted for this outside adjudication only to be subsequently over ruled. In a small council in which everyone knows everyone else’s business it is impossible to get impartial consideration of complaints unless done by independent outside adjudicators. Decisions like this have to be seen to be made fairly independently and seen to be without the possibility of bias.

Far from refusing to take part in a council complaints procedure I am more than willing to put my case to 3 independent adjudicators appointed by the Local Government Association. When the Accounts and Audit committee decided not to pursue Sue Bibby’s complaint, she was present throughout. The committee sat in camera,the press were refused access, I was refused the committee papers, not allowed to attend, make representations or be represented by solicitors.

The time has now come for major reform of the complaints system at Ribble Valley Borough Council and in other councils so proper fair due process can be seen to be followed. Any new procedure should prevent the use of complaints as a political weapon to damage Councillors.This should also mean that deliberate leaking of sensitive complaint papers to the press, as happened here before any hearing of the complaint occurred, should result in the expulsion of the councillor responsible from the council. Complaints have to be decided in a fair and independent tribunal, not on half the evidence in the court of public opinion.

Ken Hind CBE

Ribble Valley Council Committee unanmously decides not to pursue complaint against former Council Leader Ken Hind in the public interest – the answer to the complaint the public need to know

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 which in fact I am not. No complaints have been 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. To the hopelessly inadequate council investigation 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 include as part of the annual appraisal of the Chief Executive a requirement to bring forward a reformed procedure to deal with complaints against councillors; the public are still waiting 9 months down the line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chief Constable Called upon to Disclose Name of person who made Dismissed Complaints against former Council Leader

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 Counsel and Solicitors secure acquittal for mother charged with poisoning her daughter in land mark case

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.

Note

  1. Herefordshire Social Services Department was reviewed by Ofsted and found to inadequate on all 4 of the main categories and given a 6 month timetable to improve services .During this 6 month period they took Mary Kidson’s daughter way from her without speaking either to her or her physician .

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former MP Ken Hind has sets up virtual barristers chambers on the internet to provide advice and court representation in criminal defence cases

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.

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