Howard Knight controversy

After I posted a link to a story published in the Yorkshire Post for some reason Howard Knight has decided to object. What follows, is the full story of an attempt to massage the truth and to jerk this blog about, in order perhaps, to reduce our coverage for fear of legal action.

Links to three posts involved:

More Labour Cronyism, as South Yorkshire PCC appoints “not fit for purpose” Deputy.

One can only wonder why Dr Billings, the South Yorkshire PCC decided to recruit an Assistant PCC at the end of June. He already had a staff of twenty-five in his office whose job titles suggest duplication on speed and … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , | 7 Comments | Edit

New assistant police chief “to rebuild trust” in force

A NEW assistant has been chosen to support South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner and rebuild trust in the force. Sioned-Mair Richards has taken on the part-time role of assistant police and crime commissioner. Her main role will be to … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , | 10 Comments | Edit


The first sign of a problem came with this, the first email sent at 10:29 pm Sunday, although unread until the next day, Monday:


Rik Van Hegan

6 November 2016

Dear Mr Van Hegan

Re: Controversy over Yorkshire police tsar’s £31,500 appointment

I understand that you are the owner of the Rotherham Politics Website

Rotherham Politics | Robust scrutiny of all things …

Robust scrutiny of all things political in and around Rotherham. Speaking truth to power since 2008!

My attention has been drawn to a post on the Rotherham Politics website, at

repeating extracts from and drawing attention to an article which appeared on the Yorkshire Post website on 4th November 2016, by-lined Rob Waugh, at

I am named in this article.

The tendency of the article is to suggest that I (and Sioned-Mair Richards and Dr Alan Billings) have acted improperly. Councillor Otten is quoted as stating that these matters “stink”.

Such tendency is further confirmed in comments made in posts below this article and also in related articles on the Rotherham Politics website at

More Labour Cronyism, as South Yorkshire PCC appoints “not …

One can only wonder why Dr Billings, the South Yorkshire PCC decided to recruit an Assistant PCC at the end of June. He already had a staff of twenty-five …


New assistant police chief “to rebuild trust” in force …

A NEW assistant has been chosen to support South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner and rebuild trust in the force. Sioned-Mair Richards has taken …

For your information, I can confirm that I have never been contacted by either Mr Waugh, nor by Councillor Otten (who is much quoted), to establish the veracity of assertions and conclusions made in the article, nor to establish whether there are facts and context which would give an entirely different picture from that presented.

I have always followed the highest ethical standards in my public life and in my work. Just 4 years ago, the Sheffield Star (also part of the Johnston Press) was required to publish a Correction and Apology, including the following words

(Howard Knight) has a long track record of promoting high ethical standards and being intolerant of those who fail to abide by them, is insistent upon the declaration of interests and takes great care to avoid any potential conflict of interests.

to avoid action for damages and costs in respect of untruthful and defamatory statements it had published about me.

My track record remains the same, including investigating and taking appropriate action against impropriety. My consultancy work, in the UK and abroad, fundamentally depends on my reputation for integrity. Unsurprisingly, therefore, I have taken, and will always take, action to protect my reputation where I am maligned or defamed.

The Yorkshire Post article is defamatory of me. I have advised the Yorkshire Post that unless it removes the offending article and publishes a correction and apology (the words to be agreed with me), I will:

  1. be making a formal complaint to the Independent Press Standards Body, which I understand to be the Yorkshire Posts’ relevant regulator, and
  2. place the matter with my solicitor with instructions to take all appropriate steps, including action for damages and costs.

I have written separately to Councillor Otten requiring him to publish an apology (the words to be agreed with me) within 7 days to avoid action for damages and costs.

I will also take action against any other publication, including Rotherham Politics, which repeats the offending statements.

I would be grateful if you could confirm receipt of this letter and advise of the action being taken by you to remove incorrect, misleading and defamatory material about me on the Rotherham Politics’ website.

I am attaching a copy of this letter.

I look forward to your earliest response.

Yours sincerely

Howard A Knight

As I was still discussing the above email with my partner in crime, there came a knock at the door. To my surprise it was Howard Knight, clearly agitated, he shoved an envelope into my hand which contained a hard copy of his letter, the text of which is above and left saying the clock is ticking.

To say I was surprised would be an understatement! A most unusual occurrence? This guy would appear, to go in for intimidation and harassment in depth. He came over as a rather unpleasant and arrogant man, I must say.

So by now I wasn’t surprised when the second email arrived later.

Second email sent at 17:56 Monday 7th November 2016:

Dear Mr Van Hagen

Further to my e-mail and my letter, hand-delivered to you today, you may wish to note that the Yorkshire Post has  now taken down the article which had appeared at

and which you still reproduce (in part) on the Rotherham Politics’ website at

Further, you may be interested to know that the Rotherham Advertiser published a Correction and Apology several weeks ago in respect of the entirely untruthful statement that is made by Caven Vines –  “She was also the Chair of thr Police and Crime panel before the election when she cancelled the meeting so opposition Cllrs could not question Billings on the Drew report” – on the same page. Unfortunately for Mr Vines and yourself, there is a complete audit trail of documentation which demonstrates that exactly the opposite was the case.

I look forward to hearing about the action you are taking.

Yours sincerely

Howard A Knight

Note re facts: the Yorkshire Post has not removed their story.

I have sent Mr Knight the following response:

12 November 2016

Dear  Howard Knight

Re: Your complaints

I have examined your complaints in detail.

My conclusion: this story is well founded, from publicly available sources.

I have not defamed you, therefore I do not intend to take any action.

Yours sincerely.

Rik Van Hegan

Also published at:

9 thoughts on “Howard Knight controversy

  1. Political Pragmatism, Damage Limitation, Reputation Management, Personal Protection, Control of the Flow of Information, Projection of Public Perception, Insecurity, Control or Destroy – the characteristics of people who feel they have a need to attack or attempt to bully or intimidate or coercively control those who merely disseminate public information in a open, truthful, honest and transparent manner, rather than they themselves provide the facts, supported by evidence. It is just as bad this side of the viaduct. The reaction speaks for itself. How many others have been on the receiving end of similar treatment for daring to speak the truth?


    • Pleasant

      So true, ‘if the cap fits’ and all that. Knight’s actions demonstrate pomposity, arrogance and intimidation. Is this Knight’s usual MO?

      Someone who is accustomed to working in that manner?. The media articles have certainly hit the right nerves..

      Bullying and intimidation to try and get one’s own way will not work. Rothpol has a formidable reputation for integrity and keeping within the law.

      Seemingly, Knight seems to have failed both to understand the law and recognise that Rik did not defame him.

      Unjumble. Answers on a postcard –
      Face – Egg – On


  2. There are two things that you have to prove to be true in order to win a case of defamation of character in the court of law. First of all, you have to prove without a doubt that what was said or written about you is not true. Once you have proved that the statement is in fact false, you have to prove that the other person said the false statement with the intent of causing you some form of harm.

    I will be interested in how Howard Knight ‘proves’ intent by rothpol.

    The Defamation Act 2013 contains a series of measures, including:

    “New serious harm threshold” aimed at helping people to understand when claims should be brought and discourage wasteful use of court time
    Protection for scientists and academics publishing peer-reviewed material in scientific and academic journals
    Protection for those publishing material on a matter of public interest where they reasonably believe that it is in the public interest
    Libel tourism targeted by tightening the test for claims involving those with little connection to England and Wales being brought before the courts
    Introduction of a new process aimed at helping potential victims of defamation online, by resolving the dispute directly with the person who has posted the statement
    Single-publication rule to prevent repeated claims against a publisher about the same material

    Howard Knight should also be aware the original articles and comments can be reposted from anywhere and by anyone in the world. Does he intend to try and shut down the ‘net?

    I think Mr. Knight’s emails and letter are a knee jerk reaction.


  3. Pingback: The Week That Was – Last Weeks Top Ten 19th November | Rotherham Politics

  4. Update re facts: The Yorkshire Post have not ‘taken down’ Rob Waugh’s story as Howard Knight claims, nor have they edited it! It is still available at and both stand by their story.
    Joe Otten has not retracted his comments, nor apologised for them.
    Rotherham Politics also stands by the relevant posts and the facts they contain, together with the expressions of opinion left as comments. Rik.


  5. Pingback: Another Howard Knight Controversy | Rotherham Politics

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