Sheffield Council's arrogance over refusal to release Kate Josephs emails - The Yorkshire Post says

It takes a special kind of arrogance to distort the definitions of ‘public interest’ in order to keep secret matters which are potentially the most worthy of our attention.

Sheffield Council has shown just this sort of contempt in the manner of its refusal to release correspondence between itself and the Cabinet Office about the ‘Partygate’ investigation into the authority’s chief executive Kate Josephs, who is currently on paid leave from her £190,000-a-year job.

Following a Freedom of Information request by The Yorkshire Post, the authority confirmed that it does hold such correspondence.

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But it concluded that the “balance of the public interest lies in withholding this information so that we can uphold the principle of natural justice.

Sheffield Council chief executive Kate Josephs. Picture: Scott Merrylees.Sheffield Council chief executive Kate Josephs. Picture: Scott Merrylees.
Sheffield Council chief executive Kate Josephs. Picture: Scott Merrylees.

“Kate Josephs’ actions should receive a fair and unbiased hearing...”.

Ms Josephs has already said she was “truly sorry” after attending a Cabinet Office party on December 17, 2020 – when restrictions prevented such gatherings in London – minutes before a national newspaper published the story on January 14.

She had repeatedly denied to local journalists that she had been to any parties just around the corner on Downing Street.

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So we do have to interrogate this concept of ‘natural justice’ completed by an anonymous independent investigator, who is due to report back findings to a cross-party committee.

Does the council have such little confidence in its unnamed investigator that they can be swayed by ‘prejudicial’ public information?

We call on the authority to rethink its ill-judged position.