Statement on Commissioner for Ethical Standards in public life Scotland’s findings regarding complaint lodged by Inverclyde Council’s Chief Executive
In February of this year, in the run upto the 2017 Council elections, the Chief Executive submitted a complaint to the above body regarding alleged breaches he believed I had made of the Councillor’s code of conduct.
The maximum sanctions in the run upto the May Council elections could’ve been suspension as a councillor.
Documentation released during the investigation highlighted that this complaint originally generated from a complaint the Leader Inverclyde Council of the Council raised about me regarding criticism I had made of the Council’s administration.
The complaint centred on the following:
* Public comment I made criticising the Labour administration of Inverclyde Council
* Showing disrespect to the Chief Executive and Chief Solicitor of the Council in the aftermath of the above comment when they demanded I retract the comment and apologise to the local Labour Party
* Publicly criticising council officials
The above complaint received widespread press coverage and attracted a social media campaign by opponents questioning my suitability and that of my parties regarding whether we were fit for office leading upto the Council Elections of May.
At the time the complaint was raised I stated that I believed I had no case to answer. I also believed that ultimately this was a waste of public funds that did nothing but damage the reputation of our council and that of Local Government in general, an area I care so passionately about.
I would like to thank the Commissioner for Ethical standards for the time that he was duty bound to invest in the investigation.
I welcome his findings that on every single allegation of a breach of standards that he has deemed that I have no case to answer for.
I particularly welcome his findings that it is not appropriate to deem a critical reference of the actions of a council’s administration as a breach of standards.
Furthermore I welcome his statement that as a councillor I am entitled to ask questions of senior council officials and seek explanations from them where I believe their actions are inconsistent dependant upon which political group they involve.
From the beginning of this investigation I was clear that I was not guilty of any wrong doing and that since I was elected I have ensured that my actions as an elected representative shall always be conducted in a transparent manner.
Undoubtedly, questions will be asked again by members of the public about the motivations of this complaint at a time immediately before a Council election.
However, I will continue to get on with the job of representing my constituents and scrutinising the council services many of them rely on.
It is now time that as a council we move on from this and together face the challenges that lie ahead.