Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
Abraham Lincoln

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story says Mark Twain. The “good story” we are referring to is the latest “exclusive” in the the Folkestone & Hythe Express published on Wed 9th May 2018.

Screenshot from 2018-05-11 16-16-53

Now to say Folkestone & Hythe District Council (FHDC) have paid £600,000 plus in “Hush money” is simply wrong. Redundancies or even compulsory redundancies are not “hush money“. Nor could money paid for leaving by mutual consent be considered “hush money” either. However, settlement agreements paid out to officers are to be considered as “hush money“. The Express in their “exclusive” broke down the “hush money” like so:

Screenshot from 2018-05-10 10-23-15

These figures were received by the Express in an FoI response from the Council. The figures are wrong as we said. Now of course, the Express will say that the Council provided them with the figures which would be a fair comment. Anyway, each year the Council publish via their Statement of Accounts all exit packages. Now “Exit packages are defined so:

  • Exit Packages – can include compulsory and voluntary redundancy costs, pension contributions in respect of added years, ex gratia payments and other departure costs.

And below is the chart of all exit packages paid by the Council from April 1st 2010 – March 31st 2017.

Screenshot from 2018-05-10 17-01-18

The figures and the totals do not match what the Express has published. Furthermore, the Express uses the term “Settlement Agreement” and the figures they have for 2015 in their “exclusive” are wrong.

This FoI response – LS-003161-AN – from FHDC on the 26th August 2016, shows that in 2015, the former Head of Housing, Land and Property, Bob Porter (pictured below left) received £37,616.92 in a settlement agreement, to ‘ease his departure’ from council.  In the Express’s “exclusive” they say no-one received any settlement agreement at all in 2015. The FoI also shows that Joanna Miller (pictured below right), the Council’s s151 Officer (the person legally responsible for the money at the Council) also received a settlement agreement in 2016 of £26,230.

bob porter  Joanna Miller

So the Express’s exclusive isn’t really exclusive at all, as all the figures; which they received from FHDC’s HR Department are wrong. And why are the figures wrong, because the HR department at the Council gave the Express the wrong figures. So it begs a lot of questions about the reliability of the information one receives in an FoI response from the Council. Are FHDC telling us all untruths in their FoI responses? Or are they going to simply say it was a mistake? After all Exit packages are publicly available for the period in the Express’s FoI request and the HR department could have easily referred to them as could have the Express.


If the Express is asking us to believe they have an exclusive based on duff information, then so be it. But we are sure those of you who read our blog will realise the only thing exclusive about the hush money story – is the figures are/were wrong. It is not exclusive, as exclusive stories don’t usually publish fake figures to the public. Some might go as far as to say it was “fake news“, but of course they’ll contend the figures came from the Council. Did no-one at the Express think to check the publicly available exit package figures to compare before publishing? We’ll leave you to decide that.

So as we said at the beginning Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.

The Shepwayvox Team  –  Dissent is NOT a crime.

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4 Comments on Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

  1. Now that’s what I call killing two birds with one stone. Brilliant story well done to the SV Team on this.

  2. So Council’s HR department not checking nor the Express checking publicly available information. Are they both insane? Great piece and thanks for highlighting it. Perhaps they might now understand why newspapers sales are falling and why no-one really believes what the Council say.

    • Antipope // May 12, 2018 at 12:12 // Reply

      Sadly, as far as newspapers are concerned – especially local ones – fact-checking isn’t of primary importance anymore (neither is sub-editing, which is why so much journalism is rife with spelling, punctuation and grammar errors). It used to be that you sat on a story until it was fact-checked, and only once it was, would it be submitted to the editor for publication. Woe betide any journo, old or new, who hadn’t bothered to stand up his story.

  3. How much on gagging orders, or how many had to sign them .

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