That “extraordinary” Leeds & Partners story in Private Eye … and the public’s right to know

It started with this tweet on Thursday from the Yorkshire Post’s former crime reporter.


And so there was.

An extraordinary story about the insolvency of Ms Joseph, the city’s investment and tourism chief, which was Gazetted on 29th April and annulled on 5th June after bankruptcy debts to HMRC and expenses were “either paid in full or to the satisfaction of the court”.

peyecutThere’s more to the story. The final two paragraphs are on your right.

Worth a read.

Now, maybe I’ve got it wrong, but this is a story that’s of interest to people in Leeds, isn’t it?

I mean, we provide the bulk of Leeds and Partners’ income and if anybody’s interested in the doings of Leeds council, it’s us.

It’s the kind of thing you’d expect your local media to cover.

ypSo far there’s nothing – nothing from the Yorkshire Post, who broke the story about Ms Joseph’s “five-star lifestyle” this time last year, and followed up by reporting both on the inquiry launched in October into allegations of bullying against the L&P boss, and on the news released last Christmas Eve that Ms Joseph had been cleared.

It’s their story. Why have they dropped it?

Who knows.

And the BBC?

bbcThey broke the story about the bullying allegations last year and followed it through till a local union branded the inquiry findings a whitewash.

But they haven’t reported anything this time either.

Maybe both of them feel that the latest developments aren’t newsworthy.

I’m a big fan of both, but there’s a problem here.

We’ve got the Information Commissioner telling the council in Leeds that the public has a “right to know” … but what’s the use of that right to know when nobody (apart from Private Eye) is going to publish? 

If you want to see the rest of the Private Eye article, you could always go out and buy a copy. Or check the Twitter timeline of the public-spirited  @culturevultures.

I’ve asked the council if they have any comment to make on it. I’ll write something if and when they respond.


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6 Responses to That “extraordinary” Leeds & Partners story in Private Eye … and the public’s right to know

  1. Techno says:

    They may have been threatened with a libel action. Britain’s libel laws are so heavy-handed that just the threat of a libel action is enough to silence a publication, even if the sources are good.

    Private Eye traditionally and famously has a “publish and be sued” attitude which may be why it is only being published there.

    • Unlikely. The bankruptcy is on the net on the official Gazette, and there’s no way the Information Commissioner’s verdict is made up.

      • Techno says:

        As it is a personal bankruptcy, perhaps it is not considered newsworthy, or that there is not enough new information to justify a new article, which might tip the coverage over into a witch hunt, which might lead to claims that she is being targeted by her critics because of racial discrimination (positive discrimination is probably how she gets into these posts in the first place because it is clearly not her ability).

      • And apart from the bankruptcy, don’t we have a right to know 1) that OUR council contested the FOI request about the credit card spending for 12 months 2) that it was overruled and 3) the spending was as much as it was.

  2. You’re automatically disqualified from being a director of a company when you’re declared bankrupt. So there are very serious implications for the city, not just in terms of reputation. Quite apart from the obvious questions it raises about ability to plan, manage finances, etc

    That makes it news in my book, even if it’s just a little news-in-brief for the public record.

    But yes, I get your interpretation of the silence, and hope the decision to spike was made with no outside interference.

  3. Jon says:

    The Yorkshire Post / Yorkshire Evening Post have been nothing more than a PR department for the council for ages now. Always happy to tell us the exciting news like our bin collection days are changing or the council is building new houses for us but seem to ignore other issues. I don’t remember seeing anything in them about the council paying for Josie Cunninghams taxis to school and the cancelling of Party and Opera in the Park seem to be kept very quiet considering how popular they once were.

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