Fylde engineer tells of hell after being the 'victim of public campaign to discredit him'

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A Fylde engineer and noted fracking commentator has been the victim of “a public campaign to discredit” him, an inquiry has found.

Mike Hill, who stood in the 2015 General Election in Fylde while calling for strict regulation of fracking was the subject to two improper conduct complaints made to the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Mike Hill speaking at the Lowther Pavilion meeting after which a second misconduct complaint was made about him to the IET

Mike Hill speaking at the Lowther Pavilion meeting after which a second misconduct complaint was made about him to the IET

He was accused of more than 80 separate examples of bringing the IET into disrepute.

Mr Hill said the complaints had cost him thousands, hit his consultancy business, led to him being vilified in national newspapers and the period was “a nightmare” for him and his family.
He added that it had also meant he felt severely restricted in commenting about fracking regulation during the period and had effectively been “silenced”.

The first complaint was made by two people in November 2014 and surfaced in April 2015, in the middle of the election campaign, after statements he made in public meetings in Ryedale and Canterbury.

That was investigated and thrown out by the IET in September 2016. But in July 2017, one of the original complainants made a second set of allegations, many similar to the original complaint.

The Lowther Pavilion fracking meeting

The Lowther Pavilion fracking meeting

They followed a speech on fracking, including health risks for those downwind of the Fylde site given in a public debate at Lowther Gardens in June 2017.

The allegations included that Mr Hill had breached IET rules by exaggerating his expertise and role in the shale gas debate and had over-stated his position about advice given to institutions and public bodies.

All the allegations were thrown out following an in-depth probe by an independent barrister for the IET.

In the report the barrister said: “It is clear that there exists a public campaign to discredit MH (Mike Hill) much of which appears unpleasant and biased.”

A letter to Mr Hill from a senior figure at the IET said the body’s Preliminary Investigation Panel found: “No further action be taken, on the basis that none of them (the complaint issues) had merit or a case to answer.”

Mr Hill said today: “These two investigations have been utterly exhausting for me and my family and cost us hugely financially and affected my health.

“However, it is not about me it is about the Fylde and beyond.

“What it means to me to be exonerated for a second time is that now I hope the real science and engineering message which I was trying convey which relates directly to the potential for seriously damaging peoples’ health in the area and damaging the environment can now finally be heard so people can make their own minds up based on science and not on smears”