Standards (Hearings) Sub-Committee Minutes

Standards (Hearings) Sub-Committee Minutes

Wednesday 1 October 2014
10:00 a.m.
Oberhausen Room,Town Hall, Middlesbrough

Attendance Details

Rostron, (Chair), Cox, C Hobson, P Sharrocks, Taylor
S Dorchell, S Harker, B Roberts
Apologies for absence:
There were no Apologies for Absence
Declarations of interest:

There were no Declarations of Interest made at this point of the meeting.

Item Number Item/Resolution

Nominations were sought for the appointment of Chair of the Standards (Hearings) Sub Committee for the Municipal Year 2014/2015.


ORDERED that Councillor Rostron be appointed as the Chair of the Standards (Hearings) Sub Committee for the Municipal Year 2014/2015.


The minutes of the meeting of the Standards (Hearings) Committee held on 8 April 2014 were taken as read and approved as a true record.


Standards Complaints Ref: MSC004/2013 and MSC007/2013


In response to a query by a Panel Member, the Legal Services Manager confirmed that, Councillor McTigue had not apologised to Councillor P Khan or the Members of Licensing Sub-Committee A, as ordered by the Standard (Hearings) Sub-Committee on 8 April 2014.  The Legal Services Manager advised the Committee that the matter could be referred to full Council for consideration of a decision to censure Councillor McTigue.


ORDERED that the above matter be referred to Council.


As notification had been received prior to the meeting from Councillor McTigue indicating that she had no objection to the matter being considered in public, the Chair sought the views of the Sub-Committee as to whether the meeting should be held in private or open session.  As there were no objections, it was determined that the meeting be held in public.


ORDERED that the meeting be held in open session.


A report of the Monitoring Officer was presented, a copy of which had been circulated to the Sub-Committee prior to the meeting, regarding an investigation which had been undertaken in accordance with the prevailing legislation and guidance in relation to an allegation that Councillor McTigue had breached the Members’ Code of Conduct thereby bringing the Council or her role as Councillor into disrepute.


The allegation was as follows:


Following refusal by the Council to provide copies of marked registers for the Clairville Ward, and following advice to Councillor McTigue as to why such a request could not be complied with; Councillor McTigue falsely notified an officer of the Council that she had obtained a copy of the marked register for the Clairville Ward from a previous candidate. Following initial investigation by Cleveland Police, Councillor McTigue advised that she had not obtained a copy of the register. It is alleged that Councillor McTigue lied to a Council Officer and that such behaviour amounted to a breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct.


The Investigating Officer informed the Committee that the Monitoring Officer had referred the complaint to her on 1 July 2014. The Investigating Officer’s report had been circulated as Agenda Item 7. The report contained a summary of the complaint, the Standards Regime and the legal framework; as well as a summary of the findings and a recommendation.


The report concluded that Councillor McTigue had breached the Members’ Code of Conduct by acting dishonestly and by conducting herself in a manner contrary to the Council’s duty to promote and maintain high standards of Member conduct.


Having considered the Investigating Officer’s report, the Chair adjourned the meeting to enable the Sub-Committee to consider the findings of fact and, based on those findings, whether Councillor McTigue had failed to comply with the Members’ Code of Conduct.


On reconvening, the Chair summarised the issues and reported the decision of the Sub-Committee.


In regard to the allegation, the Sub-Committee unanimously concluded that Councillor McTigue had lied to officers, and had thereby breached the Members’ Code of Conduct.


The Chair then sought the views of the Investigating Officer in regard to what sanctions were considered appropriate to be imposed in this matter. The Investigating Officer advised that Members could consider whether Councillor McTigue should apologise to officers in Electoral Services for the amount of time and resources that had been wasted. The Investigating Officer also suggested that Councillor McTigue could be required to receive training on the Data Protection Act 1988 and the protection of privacy of people’s information.


The Chair adjourned the meeting for a second time to enable the Sub-Committee to consider the sanctions to be imposed.


On reconvening the Sub-Committee it was ORDERED that the following sanctions were imposed:


1. Within 28 days, Councillor McTigue should provide written apologies to officers in the Council’s Electoral Services Department and Cleveland Police in respect of her conduct and the time wasted in dealing with the matter.


2. By the end of October, Councillor McTigue must undertake and complete training in respect of her responsibilities under the Data Protection Act.


3. If Councillor McTigue failed to undertake the above training within the specified period, her access to the Council’s IT system would be suspended until such time as she has successfully
completed it.


4. The matter would be referred to full Council which would consider at a future meeting the passing of a motion of censure.

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