The complaint was brought before the Council’s Standards Committee Assessment Sub-Committee in July but the Committee decided to take no action.
A report of the committee meeting failed to name the councillor or give details of what he/she was supposed to have said, justifying the omission “by virtue of Regulation 8(5) of the Standards Committee (England) Regulations 2008” (No? Me neither, but read on).
“The Assessment Sub-Committee agreed that the subject Member was not
acting, claiming to act, or giving the impression they were acting in their official capacity during the incident,” the report said.
“Therefore the Code of Conduct did not apply to the subject Member’s alleged actions, and there was no potential breach of the Code of Conduct disclosed by the complaint,” it added.
Lessons to learn
The committee found, however, that there were “lessons to learn”.
“The Assessment Sub-Committee requested that the Deputy Monitoring
Officer produce and circulate a note to the Group Whips about the use of blogs and other social media by Councillors, particularly with regard to being aware of the capacity they are writing in and considering whether the Code of Conduct may apply to their actions or comments.”
(If anyone out there gets sight of the note, I’d quite like to have a look at it)
“Not in the public interest”
And what about the suppression of the details of the complaint?
Well, Regulation 8(5) says that written summaries of meetings “may give the name of any member, co-opted member, former member or former co-opted member, who was the subject of the allegation, unless such disclosure is not in the public interest or would prejudice any investigation.”
What’s got me baffled is that if the blog post or tweet or Facebook update at issue didn’t infringe councillors’ code of conduct and is already (presumably) in the public domain, then why is it “not in the public interest” for details to be released?