A COUNCIL leader and former Tory MP is facing three separate investigations over claims of bullying and public misconduct, a Lancashire Telegraph investigation reveals today.

Cllr Ken Hind is the ‘subject’ of a current Ribble Valley Council inquiry into a complaint of bullying by Conservative group colleague Cllr Sue Bibby.

While police say they are ‘looking into’ a complaint about the former barrister alleging possible misconduct in public office – and he may yet be probed by the Conservative Party nationally.

It has also been claimed that town hall officers have been left unable to do their regular jobs as they attempt to grapple with the fall-out from divisions within the ruling Tory group.

Cllr Hind has refused to comment.

Lancashire Telegraph: Ribble Valley Borough Council offices in Clitheroe

Ribble Valley Borough Council offices in Clitheroe

A three-month investigation by this newspaper shows that Cllr Hind’s behaviour towards Cllr Bibby, whom he replaced as planning chairman in May 2017 after being elected leader, sparked the shock resignation in July of three senior councillors from the local Conservative group.

Former deputy leaders Cllr Terry Hill and Cllr Paul Elms quit with senior colleague Cllr Robert Thompson to form the breakaway Democratic Conservative group. They were later joined by Cllr Joyce Holgate and Cllr Ruth Hargreaves.

In April this year Cllr Hind defeated Cllr Elms for the leadership of the Conservative group by just one vote after three secret ballots – and promised to run an inclusive regime.

As well as laying bare the depth of divisions between the 69-year-old former MP for West Lancashire and his current and former colleagues, our investigation confirms that borough chief executive Marshal Scott is concerned about his alleged ‘interference and intimidation’ in the investigation into Cllr Bibby’s complaint, made in November last year.

Our investigation also reveals:

  • police are looking into a complaint of misconduct in public office from a Ribble Valley councillor
  • and Conservative Central Office has received a complaint about Cllr Hind from Cllr Elms when he was still a party member

The complaint to police alleges Cllr Hind improperly used his position as leader of the council to try to impede or stop a town hall investigation into his conduct and to attempt to obtain information relating to the inquiry to which he was no entitled.

A police spokesman said in reply to an inquiry about Cllr Hind: “I can confirm we have received a complaint and we are looking into it.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Cllr Ken Hind

Cllr Bibby, who is still a member of the Conservative Party and its Ribble Valley Council group, said: “I have no comment to make at this stage.”

When approached by the Lancashire Telegraph, Cllr Hind said: “I am saying nothing. I am consulting my solicitor.”

The Telegraph has obtained several confidential documents outlining the nature of the complaint and Cllr Hind’s alleged efforts to impede the council inquiry.


Cllr Bibby’s 31-page submission to council officers alleges Cllr Hind breached the Ribble Valley Council’s members’ code of conduct in respect of six grounds – integrity, objectivity, accountability openness, honesty and leadership.

It says: “It is my submission that Cllr Hind has engaged in sustained bullying against me since April 2017.

“He has used threatening intimidating and humiliating behaviour towards me and been disrespectful.

“He has undermined me on the council and as chair of Dementia Action Alliance and failed to exercise probity and objectivity within the Conservative Group.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Cllr Sue Bibby

In response Cllr Hind has lodged a complaint with the Ribble Valley Conservative Association accusing Cllr Bibby of making a ‘malicious complaint’ against him and claims she had accused him of ‘dishonesty without any basis whatsoever’.

It says the Wilpshire councillor’s complaint was sparked by her replacement as borough planning committee chairman and ‘is part of a determined attempt by a small group of councillors to remove the leader’.

Cllr Hind’s letter to the association also alleges Cllr Bibby is ‘undermining the unity of the Conservative group and causing damage to the Conservative Party overall’.

Cllr Hind has made repeated complaints about the investigation procedure and the choice of former Conservative leader of the council Cllr Stuart Hirst, who also represents Wilpshire, as chairman of the council’s Accounts and Audit Sub-Committee conducting the inquiry.

A 39-page report to that committee by investigating officer and borough solicitor Mair Hill – also obtained by this newspaper – concludes that Cllr Hind’s decision to replace Cllr Bibby as planning chair was not made objectively and in accordance with the council’s code of conduct.

It concludes that on all three grounds of the complaint ‘Cllr Hind’s behaviour towards Cllr Bibby did form part of a wider theme of bullying conduct towards Cllr Bibby which amounted to a breach of the code in terms of leadership and lack of objectivity and integrity’.


The public minutes of a meeting of the Accounts and Audit Sub-Committee to discuss the investigation on September 13, at which Cllr Hind spoke to reiterate his objection to Cllr Hirst chairing it, records a statement from the council chief executive Marshal Scott.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Council chief executive Marshal Scott

The minutes state: “He reported that the complaint had now been running since last November and the procedure being used was the national model and in line with national guidance.

“He had just informed the sub-committee in the briefing that because of:

  • the refusal by the subject member to accept the council’s agreed procedure
  • the constant undermining of the council’s procedure by the subject member both internally within the council and externally to third parties
  • and the interference and intimidation experienced throughout the entire process

“That he intended to report to the next Accounts and Audit Committee that council officers felt unable to reach a satisfactory conclusion to this complaint.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Following the meeting Cllr Hirst (pictured above) said: “As indicated in the published minutes of the Accounts and Audit Sub Committee of 13 September the panel members were informed by the chief executive that his officers were unable to ensure the continuation of the complaint process for the reasons stated.

“The issue must now be considered by the Accounts and Audit Committee at its next meeting who must now determine how this complaint can be addressed and resolved in the light of the chief executive’s comments.”

A report by Mr Scott to members of the Conservative group on the council says Cllr Hind has ‘threatened litigation on more than one occasion’.

Mr Scott said: “A complaint about councillor has been under investigation for some time. That investigation is ongoing. I have nothing further to add.”


On May 29 Cllr Elms sent an official complaint to the national Conservative Party under its Code of Conduct which the Telegraph has also seen.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Cllr Paul Elms

In it he alleges: “Cllr Hind has overseen and allowed a culture of bullying and the marginalisation of members of the group who do not support his leadership. Ken Hind behaves as if he is beyond reproach.

“Cllr Hind’s propensity to ignore the councillor code of conduct will, if unchallenged, bring disrepute to Ribble Valley Borough Council and the Conservative Party.”

Ashley Durkan from Conservative campaign headquarters replied to say: “My understanding is that Cllr Hind’s conduct is currently being investigated by the council.

"It is not desirable to have two parallel investigations conducted at the same time and therefore the Conservative Party will await the outcome of the council’s investigations into allegations relating to Cllr Hind’s conduct and then consider whether to investigate your complaints under the Code of Conduct for Party Representatives.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Our complaints procedure is confidential and we do not comment on leaks.”

Ribble Valley Conservative Association chairman David Peat said: “No comment.”


Cllr Hill (pictured below) said: “My resignation from the Conservative group essentially stems from my discomfort with the manner in which, the current leader of the council, Cllr Hind, conducts himself.

“He does so in a way which I consider to be inappropriate and unprofessional.

“This is unprecedented and unacceptable.

“Cllr Hind’s behaviour in relation to Cllr Bibby’s complaint was the final straw for myself, Cllr Elms and Cllr Thompson.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Cllr Elms said: “Following concerns raised by the council’s chief executive, I have tried every legitimate means to challenge Councillor Hind’s behaviour within the Conservative Group and party. He sees himself as above challenge and above scrutiny.

"So I made a complaint to the Conservative Party under the new Code of Conduct launched last November. My complaint has been ignored.”

Cllr Thompson said: “I resigned from the group and the Conservative party because Cllr Hind’s style of leadership did not meet my high ethical standards in local government.”

Cllr Allan Knox, leader of Ribble Valley Council’s Liberal Democrat group, said: “The council Conservative group has been tearing itself apart.

“This makes the efficient and effective running of the council very difficult. Officers’ time is being diverted from their jobs by the fall-out of these internal divisions.

“This is bizarre and unprecedented in my 20 years experience on Ribble Valley Council.”