To many in the Scarborough and Whitby areas, and an even larger number across the wider county of North Yorkshire, the very thought that Jane Margaret Kenyon could be worthy of a special civic honour would be anathema.
Miss Kenyon endured a chequered history during her political career as a councillor in Scarborough; whilst in her seat on North Yorkshire County Council and in her role as Chair of North Yorkshire Police Authority (NYPA). She was also a failed Parliamentary candidate, having stood for Huddersfield West as a Conservative candidate in 1991.
As Chair of NYPA, she was in post when the force failed to net the country’s most notorious sex abuser, Jimmy Savile and it is inconceivable that she was one of the very few people in the area who were not aware, however obliquely, of the serial sex offending of council colleague, and former Mayor of Scarborough, Peter Jaconelli. She was also in the NYPA hot seat during the Grahame Maxwell and Adam Briggs scandals that brought national media attention of the worst kind to North Yorkshire Police. She also abused her role as Chair in attempting to have journalist Tim Hicks arrested, on entirely spurious claims of harassment, which resulted in a lengthy post-interview state of hiatus but no arrest, no disclosure of any offence committed, or any further action. It was a spiteful, vindictive act by Kenyon (whom police officers referred to in the Hicks interview as ‘Jane’) designed only to intimidate a reporter trying to do his job exposing misconduct in public office.
Calls for Kenyon to resign as Chair of the Police Authority stretch as far back as 2005 when, unsurprisingly in the light of what was to follow, financial irregularities were uncovered by auditors in the accounts management of the police. A full York Evening Press report can be read here:
There was a further, widely reported call for Kenyon to resign in 2007: This time the scandal centred on the waste of hundreds of thousands of pounds for 27 luxury cars, for which the senior police officers using them had not received appropriate training. (Scarborough News coverage here ).
There was, in between times, the Chief Constable Della Cannings profligacy scandal, particularly when the cost of a shower next to her office cost £28,000. Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, accused her of turning the local police into “a laughing stock”, while the Yorkshire Post revealed further details of Cannings’ extravagant and self-glorifying behaviour, including a HQ sculpture garden and a building to be named in her honour. Not to mention her cock-a-doodle-do telephone ringtone, and the poor-taste joke about her ‘vibrator’. All this, again, on Kenyon’s watch at the Police Authority.
It is also in my own certain knowledge, following a lengthy interchange with Dr Judith Heeley, who was then Treasurer for both West Yorkshire Police Authority and the NYPA, prior to her retirement, that certain cross-Authority ‘deals’ and staffing arrangements were not at all to the advantage of NYPA, yet had been signed off by Kenyon. Interestingly, shortly after election as Police & Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan ended some, if not all, of those financial arrangements.
As a councillor, Kenyon has featured in the national press over a number of scandals, which include the infamous ‘double-dipping’ farrago where elected North Yorkshire representatives were shamelessly drawing allowances for exactly the same item from two different public purses. Her association with Belvedere Computers Inc in the United States, where a trail of debt and unpaid employees was left in its wake along with the whiff of a ‘long firm fraud’, and the similarly ill-starred Dales Timber Ltd which left creditors nursing £250,000 of debt headaches, do not chime well with Kenyon’s role in charge of oversight of a police force, or her legal and financial portfolio responsibilities as a councillor. Neither do failure to register interests appropriately, as a public official, as required under the Localism Act 2011.
Brought up in Huddersfield, and a graduate of the exclusive, fee-paying Wakefield Girls High School, the charismatic Kenyon holds a special interest to the author of this piece. Not least because her father, Sir Bernard Kenyon, was Clerk of the former West Riding County Council based in Wakefield. He was a formidable figure in the area, but fell from grace through his improper association with the famously corrupt architect, John Poulson. The modernistic palace named ‘Manasseh’ that Poulson built on the edge of his home village, Carleton on the outskirts of Pontefract, was actually directly opposite my first ever home, ‘West Haugh’, after fleeing my parents’ nest.
Jane Kenyon and I actually met at a charity function in the Royal Hotel during my time as managing director of the now defunct Scarborough Evening News. She was charm and grace personified.
Her marriage in January 2014, after a long term adulterous relationship, to another Scarborough councillor noted for financial chicanery, Thomas William Miller, does leave the independent observer with the view that scandal is never far from Jane Kenyon’s door. Or, as she is sometimes now known: Jane Kenyon-Miller. The corporate and financial dealings of Bill Miller (as he is more commonly known), over a very long period, don’t bear too much scrutiny – but it serves no useful purpose to rehearse them here. It is not ‘Nine Dollar Bill’ that is being lined up for an ill-deserved civic honour.
Which brings the reader, neatly, to the thrust of this piece: Jane Kenyon was given the considerable honour of becoming a Honorary Alderman of the Borough of Scarborough at a specially convened meeting on 23rd October, 2015, despite some vigorous objections raised by me, and others more local to the Borough. In the course of my interchange with the Council’s press officer Gabrielle Jandzio on this subject, it has become clear that I was deliberately misled by none other than the Council’s Legal Services Manager, Lisa Dixon, and her subordinate, David Kitson, who set out to falsely misprepresent the contents of correspondence concerning a previous complaint made against Mrs Dixon to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
This is the same Lisa Dixon who tried to prevent local journalists Nigel Ward, and the aforementioned Tim Hicks, uncovering a series of embarrassing stories about her and Scarborough Council by threatening to have their website closed down. The website is still functioning normally, today, when I checked. Indeed, this is one of the pieces I found concerning Jane Kenyon (click here).
The Real Whitby material on Scarborough Council’s frequent misdemeanours is also, as far as I can see, replicated on the more recent North Yorks Enquirer website. There has been no challenge by Mrs Dixon to the content of that website, thus far.
The SRA are now aware that a complaint will be lodged over this issue once my enquiries into the matter are complete and, it has emerged, that there is already a previous complaint against Mrs Dixon on file. Although this was misrecorded by the SRA, as a complaint against Scarborough Borough Council, rather than Mrs Dixon. A matter, presently, the subject of an appeal by the complainant.
Having recently faced the ignominy of obliterating Peter Jaconelli (who would have been prosecuted for multiple child sex offences were he still alive) from the honours boards in the Town Hall at Scarborough, it is difficult to gauge the rationale for the Council bringing down another firestorm of criticism upon itself.
However, in a sensational twist to the Kenyon tale, another seriously damaging allegation has had further light shed upon it. New and probative evidence has been passed to me, anonymously, concerning an alleged fraudulent benefit fraud claim made by Bill Miller. This was the subject of an article in Private Eye magazine in May 2014 and followed an attempt by Scarborough Council to smear Nigel Ward. This backfired spectacularly when Ward was able to hand the DWP investigator a copy of the able-bodied Miller’s 1996 ‘disability claim’ which had been leaked to him from the Town Hall. Now, there is an audio recording in which a leading Borough and County Councillor, David Jeffels, is heard, very clearly, to discuss a fraudulent claim by a local Councillor which, allegedly, was settled at a tribunal by payment of a sum, thought to be £25,000, by the alleged benefits cheat. Incredibly, if all this is true, and can be linked to Miller (and Kenyon) it would leave Council lawyer Mrs Dixon scratching her head: She is already supposed to have investigated this matter – and presumably filed it in the ‘nothing to see here’ box. It also puts the Council in another tight spot and, potentially, facing the eradication of another name from the Alderman honours board.
In this regard, it is worth noting that her local electorate in the Mayfield ward turfed Kenyon off the Council at the last election, in May 2015. Not inconceivably, as a result of all the negative publicity she had visited upon the town over her scandalous conduct. It is reported that she left the election count in tears, after the result was announced.
It has also transpired recently, via yet another information request made to the CPS by fellow journalist Nigel Ward ,that Peter Jaconelli was charged by the police for indecent assault in 1972. A year when, we understand, that Jaconelli was Mayor of Scarborough. So, it seems, North Yorkshire Police (and very probably the present Mayor of Scarborough, retired Chief Inspector Tom Fox) has known throughout the Savile and Jaconelli scandals, raging over the past two years, that the latter had been charged but the matter then never reached court. Another high level cover-up?
It is also improbable that the fact Jaconelli was detained by the police, over an offence concerning a young Spanish waiter, is unknown to the Borough Council, whose determination not to publicly apologise to Jaconelli’s victims continues to astound.
Following the blanking out of Jaconelli’s name there were 26 Honorary Aldermen remaining. It now seems certain, as more and more allegations surface about Jane Kenyon, that sometime in the coming months there will be another blank space after the rubbing out of another disgraced civic figure.
Another interesting, and high profile, past nomination was that of Cllr Eileen Bosomworth (whom I have also met). She was the Leader of the Council during the nationally notorious £56 million High Point Rendel scandal, but despite the strong stench of corruption and lawlessness around the whole affair, and only serving fourteen years rather than the requisite sixteen, less than two years later Mrs Bosomworth was conferred with the honour of Alderman.
Just as strange as the 2013 decision by North Yorkshire Council to make Jane Kenyon an Alderman of the County. But, of course, at that time knowledge of her misdemeanours was not no widespread – and the efforts to silence her critics not quite so frantic. Or, as well funded via the public purse.
Mrs Kenyon-Miller was not available for comment prior to publication of this article. I am presently trying to track down Bill Miller: last seen emerging from his Mercedes motor car (Reg no TWM 1) parked on double yellow lines outside Scarborough Town Hall.