Tom Dewey inquiry: Council refuses to make public the terms of reference

John Henderson

John Henderson, who is leading the Tom Dewey inquiry. Photograph: Staffordshire County Council

The full scope of an independent inquiry into the council’s response to the Tom Dewey scandal remains shrouded in mystery – more than two months after the probe was announced.

The Town Hall has refused to provide the terms of reference for the investigation to both the Citizen and one of its own councillors.

The inquiry was set up to examine the decisions made by the council in response to a notification from the National Crime Agency regarding then-serving councillor, Tom Dewey.

John Henderson, formerly chief executive of Staffordshire County Council, was appointed by the Town Hall at the beginning of November to carry out the investigation.

But when asked by the Citizen for the terms of reference, a council spokesperson responded: “The council will not be commenting on any related issues until after the review is concluded.

“The report and any recommendations will be reported to full council at the earliest opportunity.”

Green party councillor Alastair Binnie-Lubbock was given similarly short shrift when he requested the terms from the Town Hall’s interim chief executive, Dawn Carter-McDonald.

She replied to him: “The terms of reference are not being shared with anyone. They contain confidential information which is not for wider circulation […] As such, I cannot agree to share the terms of reference with you.”

Binnie-Lubbock told the Citizen: “I think it’s important for us to be able to understand the scope of the work carried out as part of the independent investigation commissioned by the council.

“The previous Labour mayor’s resignation was precipitated by a lack of transparency and this investigation is an attempt to restore trust.

“The process of this investigation should therefore be as transparent as possible.”

The Hackney Downs councillor has asked whether a redacted version of the terms of reference can be made available.

The Citizen also approached inquiry lead John Henderson for the terms. He referred our reporter back to the council press office.

However, he also said: “The terms of reference, as you would expect, have evolved as I have worked my way through this, and I want to make sure that you’re getting the most up-to-date information.”

Tom Dewey was given a suspended sentence in August after admitting five charges of possessing indecent images of children.

He quit as a Labour councillor in May 2022, just 10 days after being elected to represent De Beauvoir.

Philip Glanville recently resigned as Hackney’s mayor after he was photographed at a social event with Tom Dewey just hours after he had been informed of Dewey’s arrest.

The photograph contradicted Glanville’s previous version of events, and he was suspended by Labour before stepping down as mayor.