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POLICE 5 North Yorkshire boors SPECTOR Kanacker has been splashing taxpayers’ cash with abandon in Yorkshire =all in the cause of closing down free speech. North Yorkshire Police (NYP) has just ‘spent an estimated £1m-plus on a series of inconclusive cases aimed at gagging a pensioner “citizen journalist” whose website has published embarrassing but true stories about local establishment figures, including, police and councillors. Many stories broken by Nigel Ward (pictured, top) on the websites Real Whithy and North Yorks Enquirer have been followed up by the Eve and other publications. His scoops include the indifference of police and council to the fact ‘that the late mayor of Scarborough and . friend of Jimmy Savile, Peter Jaconelli, was a predatory paedophile (Eye 1370); that senior members of the North Yorkshire National Park Authority who happened to be landowners stood to make ~ millions if they passed an application for a controversial potash mine in the park (Eye 1334); and that prominent Tory councillor and former North Yorkshire police authority chair Jane Kenyon- Miller (pictured, bottom) had a string of undeclared business failures behind her which left unpaid debts in Britain and the US. (Eye 1318). Not to mention stories of councillors’ expenses fiddles and unpaid council taxes. Clearly Ward had to be stopped. In 2013 Scarborough borough council’s chief legal officer Lisa Dixon spoke about “closing down” Real Whitby if the stream of “defamatory and untrue” stories didn’t stop (Eve 1338). Trouble was, they were all true, so a libel case wasn't an option. The following year an attempt to smear Ward as a benefits fraudster was given short shrift by the Department for Work and Pensions (Eye 1367) and Real Whithy came out of a BBC investigation into its stories with flying colours. An attempt was then made to bring criminal charges of “harassment” against Ward and two other Real Whitby contributors, Tim Hicks and Peter Hofschr&er. The wrapping-up of the three men’s cases was Ward's misfortune. While there was never any serious case against him, the position regarding Hicks and Hofschréer was more complicated. Real Whitby had given space to Hofschréer, who had an axe to grind with York city council and the police over their handling of a complicated family property dispute and had made wild allegations of corruption and collusion by the authorities. Police launched an investigation, Operation Rome, which lasted almost three years and cost just shy of £410,000. Alas, the Crown Prosecution Service twice refused to bring criminal charges. No sooner was Rome closed down than NYP embarked on a follow-up, Operation Hyson, which eventually begat a civil case for harassment which petered out at Leeds county court at the end of July. An initial list of nine claimants included three serving senior NYP officers, Chief Constable Dave Jones, his deputy Tim Madgwick and Chief Supt Lisa Winward. But by the time the case got to Leeds, only Kenyon-Miller remained in the fight, and Ward was the sole remaining defendant. Judgment had been entered against Hofschréer last ‘November after he refused to take part in proceedings, and a settlement was, agreed in the case of Hicks last June, whereby he undertook not to contact members of the Hofschréer family and to take down scores of online articles about the property dispute. Military historian Hofschréer, meanwhile, was convicted on child pornography charges in July and sentenced to 30 months in prison. At the conclusion of the case, Nigel Ward agreed not to write about Kenyon-Miller any more as long as she remained out of public office. No order for costs or damages was made against him — and his costs, yet to be assessed, will be by the claimants. The decision to pursue the case and fund it out of taxpayers’ money was taken by Chief Constable Jones, according to the local police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan, even though he was a party to the proceedings. Knacker is shy about the cost of Operation Hyson. It is hard to see that it could have cost less than the £410,000 quoted for Rome. NYP. admits that it spent more than £217,000 on. external solicitors and barristers for Hyson. So at a conservative estimate, a stretched rural force appears to have spent well over £1m funding futile cases in which senior police officers and a former chair of the police authority were claimants. Evening all! In the Back team on 020 7437 4017 or email: strobes@private-eye.co.uk