Standards Sub-Committee – 28 June 2012
Time: 2 pm
Please note: The sub-committee may consider any applications submitted for the exclusion of the public under 1(i) below, and then may decide to exclude the public from the meeting for consideration of the following item on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in appropriate paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).
1. To conduct a hearing into allegations that Councillor M Grant of North Lincolnshire Council failed to comply with and breached the council’s Code of Conduct.
Papers attached: –
(i) Procedure at hearings.
(ii) Legal Advisor’s summary – Exempt
(iii) Report of Mrs V Wilcockson- Investigating Officer – Exempt
(iv) The Code of Conduct.
HEARING DATE: 28 JUNE 2012
RE: REFERENCE CONCERNING POSSIBLE FAILURE TO FOLLOW THE CODE OF CONDUCT
RESPONDENT: COUNCILLOR MICK GRANT
RELEVANT AUTHORITY: NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE COUNCIL
SUB – COMMITTEE MEMBERS: MR WAYNE HARVIE (INDEPENDENT MEMBER) (CHAIRMAN), MR PAUL KELLY (INDEPENDENT MEMBER), COUNCILLOR RICHARD NIXON (PARISH MEMBER), COUNCILLOR DAVID WHITELEY (MEMBER), COUNCILLOR DAVID ROBINSON (MEMBER)
1. The Referral
1.1 The Sub Committee considered a matter that had been referred for investigation by an Assessment Sub Committee. Mrs Valerie Wilcockson (formerly of the council’s Legal Services) had investigated the complaint and produced a report in which she had found no breach of the Code of Conduct. The Sub-Committee had considered the report on 22 March 2012 and had resolved to hold a full hearing into the matter.
1.2 The Respondent had been provided with a copy of the Investigating Officer’s report and had been given an opportunity to respond. He had submitted a set of pre-hearing forms as requested.
The Respondent attended and was represented by Mrs Frances Randle, a solicitor. She called the Respondent and Councillor Mark Kirk as witnesses.
The Sub – Committee was advised by the Monitoring Officer, Mr Will Bell.
3. The Complaint
3.1 A complaint had been received that the Respondent had breached the Code of Conduct by behaving in an aggressive and intimidating manner towards the complainant on a number of occasions, generally in the presence of other officers or members of the council, and that she had suffered both emotionally and financially as a direct result of his actions. She alleged that this conduct constituted bullying, contrary to paragraph 3 (2) (b) of the Code of Conduct.
3.2 The complaint had been made by Mrs Zoe Fillingham, a former employee of the council.
4. Submission by the Respondent
4.1 The Respondent’s solicitor had completed and submitted the relevant pre-hearing forms giving an outline of her case and indicating that she would call the respondent and Councillor Mark Kirk as witnesses.
5. Exclusion of the Press and Public
5.1 The Respondent’s representative made representations that the press and public be excluded from the hearing on the basis that sensitive information relating to both the Respondent and the Complainant would be disclosed as part of her case. She asked that the Complainant and her husband also be excluded.
5.2 The Sub-Committee adjourned to consider this request in camera and take advice from the Monitoring Officer on this issue. They also considered whether members of the Council, not being members of the Sub – Committee, should be allowed to attend in accordance with Procedure Rule1.36 (b)
5.3 The Sub-Committee having considered the matter carefully
Resolved – (a) That the public be excluded from the meeting for the remainder of the hearing on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended); (b) that in the interests of natural justice and procedural fairness the Complainant and her husband be allowed to remain in the hearing, and (c) no exception be made to Procedure Rule 1.36 (b)
5.3.1 The parties were recalled to the hearing which proceeded in the absence of the press and public.
(Note: Paragraphs 6 to 7.3 have been redacted from this public version of the decision as they contain exempt information).
7.4.1. The Sub-Committee considered its findings in private.
7.4.2 Consideration was given to each of the events complained of and the Sub-Committee’s findings were as follows: –
(i) Paragraphs 5.1.1. to 5.1.3 of the report – Facts proven to the required standard.
(ii) Paragraphs 5.2.1 to 5.2.3. – Facts proven to the required standard.
(iii) Paragraphs 5.3.1. to 5.3.2 – Facts not proven to the required standard
(iv) Paragraphs 5.4.1 to 5.4.10 – Facts proven to the required standard in so far as they relate to facts rather than interpretation or perception.
(v) Paragraphs 5.5.2 to 5.5.8 – Facts proven to the required standard in so far as they relate to facts rather than interpretation or perception.
7.4.3 The parties were recalled and the Sub – committee’s Findings reported.
8. Breach of the Code
8.1 Having made its findings of fact the Sub- Committee considered whether these amounted to a breach of the code of conduct.
(Note: Paragraph 8.2 has been redacted from this public version of the decision as it contains exempt information).
8.3.1 The sub committee reached the following decision having taken into account all representations made.
8.3.2 Having made the findings set out in paragraph 7.4.2 and having carefully considered the submissions made on behalf of the Respondent, including the definition of bullying contained in Standards for England Case Review and the cases referred to, the Sub – Committee did not find any evidence of an intent to bully the complainant and therefore found no breach of the Code of Conduct.
17 July 2012