The House of Fraser

Page last updated Monday 23rd September 2013 at 1030hrs

This is not a promo page for the well known Department Store chain! It is the home of news and views about West Yorkshire Police & Crime Commisioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, and the real power behind the PCC throne, Fraser Sampson. Much better paid than the Commissioner, as well, our Fraser. He takes out £145,000 from the public purse, all told. Which is the same almost as what 7 police constables would cost. Which would you rather have?

WYOPCC is currently run from the grand, palatial Grade 2 listed setting of Ploughland House, close to the city centre of Wakefield. It is filled with the same staff that occupied under the guise of the old ‘weak and ineffective’ West Yorkshire Police Authority plus a couple of recent notable additions of two more Labour Party activists, about both of whom there has been a storm of public criticism.

The first crony to take his well padded seat was Henri Murison, a former Labour Councillor in Newcastle who joined as a £41,000 pa Research Director. However, Murison departed Ploughland House after only five months in mysterious circumstances to take up an as yet unidentified role “in the private sector”. The second, and much more controversial, is the appointment of “the bosses wife” as Deputy Commissioner. Labour Party activist and election publicist Isabel Owen was selected from a Labour-only recruitment pool that attracted only three other applicants, allegedly. What the Commissioner and Ms Owen forget to mention was that she is married to Regional Director of the Yorkshire & Humber Labour Party, Peter Nicholson. Also missed off the CV was that Burns-Williamson, Ms Owen and Nicholson used to share the same office in Cheapside, Wakefield (almost opposite the ‘secret’ Wakefield HQ of the IPCC).

.A decision was made on 22nd November 2012 (The Commissioner’s first ever) to move from his Grade 2 Listed palace to different premises in Wakefield. Our Champagne Socialist Commissioner, and lover of first class travel and £150 a night hotels, will no doubt have fixed up somewhere plush. Best guess at present is the new police offices being built at Carr Gate. The Commissioner won’t come right out and say, so a FoI request was made by investigative reporter, Neil Wilby. Always open and transparent, our Commissioner was unable to say at the outcome of that information request to where he intended to transfer his staff.  You couldn’t make it up if you tried. Except this sort of regular pantomine is all at the taxpayer’s expense.

In the meantime, the ink has scarcely dried on the latest Wakefield Council/West Yorkshire Police venture into property development. Iconic Wood St police station and the prestigious WYPA Bond Terrace premises – home of the Force Solicitor’s team of 20 – have seemlessly changed hands out of sight of public scrutiny. With Burns-Williamson having a foot firmly in both camps as Wakefield Councillor and Police Commissioner. Wires appear to be crossed over the price paid as Burns-Williamson has given out two different figures publicly. £720,000 and £550,000.

Burns-Williamson was also caught lying, in writing, concerning his knowledge of the numbers of convicted officers in the ranks of West Yorkshire Police. In a letter to Wakefield businessman, Mr Tony Ramsden, he claimed that the information was not known because of FoI overcost rules. The reality is that Burns-Williamson is very well aware of the numbers and details of those convicted officers because he asked disgraced former Chief, (Sir) Norman Bettison the very same question at a WYPA meeting and the answer from Bettison was minuted here:

If a Police and Crime Commissioner can’t be trusted to provide truthful answers then it is time to step down. If this was an isolated incident or a mistake it could be passed over but it is a routine occurence where this Commissioner is concerned, as regular followers of this section of the website will discover.

After writing to a Wakefield Community group on 15th December saying no decision has been reached on whether he would appoint a Deputy Commissioner, Burns-Williamson gives the voters a slap in the face and informs the press instead on 3rd January that he would have a £53,000 pa bag carrier after all. Always a duck and a dive with our PCC as he knew exactly who that Deputy was going to be from the moment he was selected as Labour’s Commissioner, unopposed. The person doing that selecting of course was the above-named Peter Nicholson. It was no doubt discussed between Burns-Williamson and Ms Owen when they were seen having dinner together a week or so earlier (6th December).

Scandal also continues to dog tricky Chief Executive and Solicitor, Fraser Sampson. He was discredited nationally with the publication of the report into his dealings with the Chief Constable of Lincolnshire, Neil Rhodes. uPSD’s full dissection of Operation Redbone can be found by clicking here.