ERYC Intimate Libel Action Against Me – Part 2

Mathew Buckley, ERYC, Head of Legal and Democratic Services replied to ERYC Intimate Libel Action Against Me

Nigel Leighton

My Reply To Mathew – Part 2

From: Andy Strangeway

Sent: Tuesday, December 8, 2015 4:20 PM

To: Mathew.Buckley@eastriding.gcsx.gov.uk

Subject: Re: Nigel Leighton

Dear Matthew,

Thank you for your email.

I will deal with your responses numerically, in the prescribed manner.

1) I am glad that you have now acknowledged my revised position in relation to the prudence of retaining the taxi-rank so that disabled persons may access the centre of Pocklington. On this point, we are now on the same page.

Your references to what you described as my “hyperbolic” language were certainly not made with laudatory intent. Your intent was clearly to be critical in a negative sense. As such, you were attempting to denigrate or pejorate my publications. The same could be said of your rash remarks about me “shooting from the hip”. Please do not insult me further by denying that. I await your apology.

My publications are part of a regularly up-dated blog. As such, publications are by nature fluid; subsequent publications up-date readers on further developments in a dynamic situation.Thus, only when the proposals regarding the taxi-rank are resolved by the cabinet will it be possible to state whether or not my interventions have been successful. That is why – and you must be aware of this, since you have quoted it to me – I stated:
“Today I am delighted to announce that my campaign has been successful subject to formal process.”
Clearly, in your haste to rebut my position, you have overlooked the caveat expressed in the latter part of my statement – shown in bold type and underlined, here above.

2) You are correct that my submissions in relation to the decision facing Cabinet are noted; they are contained in my formal objection, as submitted to the Council and acknowledged in writing by the Council. I believe there have been other objections.

I am fully aware that the EA implications relate to that decision. It is my contention, clearly delineated in my email of 3rd December, that a proposal to consult regarding an action that entails EA considerations must itself also respect the Council’s duty to consider the HRA and EA implications. You are aware that the Council’s diligent consideration of HRA and EA implications is paramount and that all actions proposed by the Council (or its Officers), including proposals to consult on future actions, are predicated on the delineation of such diligent consideration. The point is not – and I have already explained this with some clarity – that Nigel Leighton failed to consider any EA implications; by stating in his report seeking the authorisation to consult, he specifically stated that there were no EA implications. This is untrue. There are EA implications, and by withholding that information, Nigel Leighton has misled the Cabinet – and, more importantly, the public. It is there in black and white. Please let us not waste any more time disputing that which is evidenced in writing.

3) See above.

4) See above.

5) It is of little consequence whether or not you – who have clearly overlooked a number of important elements in regard to my formal complaint – accept my contention. It is entirely validated by the correspondence and publication record and the Council’s own record – the public record.

6) I am sorry that you do not accept that I had grounds to make my statement. It is the case, however, that I do not require your approval or authorisation in respect of my publications, which are entirely my affair. As I have patiently explained, the facts support my position. If you are unable to follow the argument, the fault rests with you, not me.

7) I note that you do not know what Nigel Leighton’s wishes are. It was hardly your place, then, to speculate; certainly not to provide me with unsolicited legal advice – an action assuredly not within your remit. I may return to this matter at a later date.

8) See above.

9) Any letter implying a threat of legal action, whilst not openly purporting to be a letter before action, is intimidatory and redolent of corporate bullying. I may return to this matter, too, at a later date.

10) It is both commonplace and best practice in the complaints processes of local authorities – and is in most cases mandated within the textual body of the relevant Complaints Procedures – to provide Complainants with a copy of the Complaints Procedure, for how else may Complainants be aware of the terms of the process upon which they embark? The URL-link embedded within your email ( http://www2.eastriding.gov.uk/council/contact-the-council/tell-us-how-it-is-complaints-comments-and-compliments/) leads to a page that does not appear to contain a URL-link through which I may download a copy of the ERYC ratified Complaints Procedure.

Please provide a copy of that document in PDF format, by return, or confirm that the Council has never ratified a Complaints Procedure document.

11) Thank you for adhering to the numbering system, which facilitates reference for us both – and our readers.

12) I will be able to form a view as to whether or not you have adhered to the Council’s Complaints Procedure only when I have been given the opportunity to examine its terms and measure your conduct against those terms. You seem to be in some doubt about that yourself.

Meanwhile, it is becoming clear to me that instead of Nigel Leighton offering a sincere apology for having misled the Cabinet and us all moving on, the Council has determined to proceed with its wonted “stone-walling” approach to criticial input. This is not entirely a bad thing in as much as it provides a compelling rationale for airing such matters in the court of public opinion. As a Council that purports to embrace openness, transparency and accountability, ERYC will no doubt endorse my efforts to keep the public – the paymaster of all public servants, paid and elected – properly informed.

In the absence of a copy of the Council’s Complaints Procedure, I have no way of knowing at what stage we presently stand, nor what stages may follow. I believe that you are remiss in not having approsed me of that. Again, I may return to this matter at a later date.

For your information, I have heard nothing from Nigel Leighton – or his solicitor.

I reserve the right to publish my correspondence with the Council, in whole or in part, into the public domain, as I see fit.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kindest Regards,

Andy Strangeway

PS – I draw your attention to the advice provided on the web-page linked in your email. Whether or not this advice accords with the Council’s Complaints Procedure I cannot know. But I can ask the question: is it now time to move this along to “the relevant director”? Who would that be in respect to my formal complaint against Nigel Leighton?

What if I am not happy with the response I receive to my complaint?

If you are not happy with the response, you can ask for it to be looked at by the relevant director.

If you are still not happy after the director has responded, you can take your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. You can contact them in one of these ways:

By post to:
Local Government Ombudsman
PO Box 4771
Coventry
CV4 0EH

Telephone: 0845 6021983 or 0300 061 0614
Local Government Ombudsman (external website)
Text ‘call back’ to 0762 4803014

Please note, the Local Government Ombudsman will usually ask you to take your complaint through the council’s complaints procedure before they will investigate it.

Kindest Regards,

Andy Strangeway

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