A change in tone!

Recent visitors to this site may have seen the “Irrelevant” blog. This came about because of a quote that appeared in the Crow on Friday 27th October 2017.

Reacting to the publication of the report, Mr Tulloch told the Crow: “The report was fundamentally flawed. Publication was rejected by the parish council twice, and the incoming parish council also decided not to publish it. The Information Commissioner’s Office decided it should not be published and after all this time none of the people in the report are in public office. So it’s irrelevant – I’m not certain what it’s meant to achieve.”

However, when it went to print on 2nd November the comment had changed to the following:

“This report was the outcome of a badly conducted process. Legal opinion identified over 30 flaws and areas of bias. It was twice rejected by Melbourn Parish Council, and both the council and the Information Commissioner’s Office decided it should not be published. Nothing is served by its publication now.”

I feel Bob Tulloch has missed the gravity of this situation, by attempting to use smoke-screens to avoid accepting the right and proper result.

“This report was the outcome of a badly conducted process. Legal opinion identified over 30 flaws and areas of bias”
Judge Hughes of the First-Tier Tribunal (Part of Her Majesty’s Courts Service) gave his ‘legal opinion’ clearly during his summoning up of the Court case against the ICO and why the Grievance report should be released.

“The Chairman of the Council received the scrupulously fair and impartial report of a well-conducted panel of experienced councillors which made adverse findings with respect to his conduct and sought to suppress it in breach of his fundamental obligations as a holder of public office. It is hard to see any right to confidentiality with respect to such misconduct, there is no legitimate interest of the Chairman of the Council to protect.”

“It is hard to see a more clear cut case of a FOIA request pursuing a legitimate interest. The Chair of a Council has, using his role as chair, controlled the receipt of a report critical of him and caused it to be rejected in a private session of the Council. This was misconduct of a councillor of considerable gravity.”

The two quotes above are from the Tribunals report in regards the conduct of Bob Tulloch while he was Chairman of Melbourn Parish Council. I believe they speak for themselves. Judge Hughes, took six months to investigate this case and to suggest that the Judge missed over 30 flaws and areas of bias, is to question the Judge’s ability to reach a sound and objective decision.

“It was twice rejected by Melbourn Parish Council”
There is only one known ‘recorded’ vote when the council rejected the Grievance Report. This took place during an extraordinary meeting held on 16th May 2016, part of this meeting was held in camera for which Bob Tulloch was in attendance throughout. Another meeting held on 27th June 2016, which also discussed the Grievance report, part of which was also held in camera. The meeting was chaired by Bob Tulloch as Chairman of the Parish Council, there is no indication a vote took place. However, to put it into perspective, three of the five councillors that wanted the report released had resigned before this meeting took place.

“both the council and the Information Commissioner’s Office decided it should not be published”

The (new) Parish Council had received a letter from a solicitor threatening ‘legal action’ should they publish the document – not because they didn’t want to see it published. The letter from the solicitor read:

“We have been consulted by a party who is named in this recent report. This person intends to take legal action concerning the allegations and sensitive information in the report”

I have no doubt, using public (our) money to fight a legal claim would have drawn the Parish Council into a new round of controversy.

The ICO actually agreed that the report was in the public’s interest, however, they also felt that “it would have been potentially embarrassing to one or more people”, ignoring all other legal and moral considerations. As Judge Hughes stated in his summation, the ICO’s report was ‘fundamentally flawed’.

“Nothing is served by its publication now”
On the contrary, lessons have been learned and hopefully the new Parish Council will become more open and transparent, something the previous Council failed to achieve. More importantly, Councillors (nationally) will not be able to claim embarrassment as a reason to avoid publishing documents, they would rather hide from their residents.

Why now?
Unfortunately, ‘the Wheels of Justice turn slowly’. It has been almost 18 months from the day the first request to see the Grievance report was made to the final decision by the First-Tier Tribunal. Perhaps, had residents been given the report as they should have, all this would be a distant memory!

If as Bob Tulloch has said, the report contains over 30 flaws and areas of bias, tell us what they are, clearly and openly.


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