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 Member's Code of Conduct thereby bringing the Council or her role as Councillor into disrepute.
The allegations were as follows:
(i) Councillor McTigue distributed a leaflet through to local residents which falsely claimed that Beech Grove School "has the worst SATs results every year in the town and is almost at the bottom of the league table in the country", subsequently recirculating the leaflet despite being informed that the contents were inaccurate; and
(ii) Councillor McTigue "dragged" Beech Grove School into a political argument without justification.
The Investigating Officer informed the Committee that the Monitoring Officer had referred the complaint to her on 31 August 2016. The Investigating Officer's report had been circulated as Agenda Item 6. 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 Member's Code of Conduct by publicising information that was incorrect and had the potential to bring the school and its achievements and hence the authority into disrepute. In addition a Councillor who held a position of public office, and published incorrect or false information was likely to bring the office of Councillor into disrepute.
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 allegations, the Sub Committee unanimously concluded that Councillor McTigue had publicised information that was incorrect 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 the school for the false information that had been publicised and issue another leaflet correcting the information. Consideration could also be given to publishing a notice in the local press correcting the false information. A further suggestion was that the Monitoring Officer could write to the school advising them of outcome of Standards (Hearings) Sub Committee, including a summary of the action to be taken, which could then be forwarded to staff, parents and pupils.
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 sanction was imposed:
1. Councillor McTigue, by way of an apology to the school, to produce and distribute a leaflet correcting the false information previously issued.