Standards board councillor handed rap by...standards board

Standards board councillor handed rap by...standards board

By Gareth Dennison | 05/03/2021

Standards board councillor handed rap by...standards board

A COUNCILLOR lost his place on the standards board after ending up in front of the committee himself for comments made online.

 

Cllr Jonathan Ireland (below) was found to have brought both Rotherham Council and Anston Parish Council into disrepute.

The comments on a blog — under the pseudonym “Anstonian” — referred to possible nepotism in the awarding of a contract to a firm by Anston Parish Council.

 

An RMBC standards sub-committee recommended that Cllr Ireland, Labour, be removed from his role on the standards and ethics committee by his group leader.

But Cllr Ireland, who denied making the online post throughout his hearing, stood down in light of his former colleagues’ findings.

Council and Labour group leader Cllr Chris Read said: “We expect all councillors to comply with the code of conduct, and in this case where Cllr Ireland has been found to fall short he has accepted the recommendations of the sub-committee.

“Residents should take assurance from the impartial and dispassionate way in which the sub-committee has conducted its work.”

The complainant was Cllr Clive Jepson, who is Cllr Ireland’s colleague both for the Anston & Woodsetts RMBC ward and on Anston Parish Council.

Cllr Jepson made the allegation that the code of conduct had been breached after learning about the nepotism comment on blog site Anston Parish Council Watch.

Cllr Ireland denied the post was by him — and said it should not be considered by members of the standards board as it was over three months old.

Stuart Fletcher, RMBC investigating officer, said the administrator of the now-closed blog had confirmed the personal email address of the “Anstonian” pseudonym.

Cllr Jepson, independent, told the private hearing on January 18 that he found the comments to be unacceptable and upsetting. He said they questioned his integrity as a parish councillor.

A man from the firm — referred to as Witness A — confirmed he had been a colleague of Cllr Jepson’s but said they had not worked closely together. Cllr Jepson retired as a council officer in 2003.

The witness confirmed the company’s success in tendering for the contract and said the online comments were defamatory to the business.

In his closing remarks, Cllr Ireland reiterated that the complaint was “out of time” and said there was no substantive proof he made the post.

He told the sub-committee that even if he had made the post, it was not made in an official capacity so the code of coduct was not relevant. He also alleged a breach of GDPR.

The sub-committee, chaired by Labour’s Cllr Rose McNeely, found that on the balance of probabilities, that Cllr Ireland had made the post, and done so in his official capacity.

Cllr Ireland had breached the code by failing to treat others with respect, the sub-committee ruled.

He did not respond to the Advertiser’s request for comment this week.sidered by members of the standards board as it was over three months old.

Stuart Fletcher, RMBC investigating officer, said the administrator of the now-closed blog had confirmed the personal email address of the “Anstonian” pseudonym.

Cllr Jepson, independent, told the private hearing on January 18 that he found the comments to be unacceptable and upsetting. He said they questioned his integrity as a parish councillor.

A man from the firm — referred to as Witness A — confirmed he had been a colleague of Cllr Jepson’s but said they had not worked closely together. Cllr Jepson retired as a council officer in 2003.

The witness confirmed the company’s success in tendering for the contract and said the online comments were defamatory to the business.

In his closing remarks, Cllr Ireland reiterated that the complaint was “out of time” and said there was no substantive proof he made the post.

He told the sub-committee that even if he had made the post, it was not made in an official capacity so the code of conduct was not relevant. He also alleged a breach of GDPR.

The sub-committee, chaired by Labour’s Cllr Rose McNeely, found that on the balance of probabilities, that Cllr Ireland had made the post, and done so in his official capacity.

Cllr Ireland had breached the code by failing to treat others with respect, the sub-committee ruled.

He did not respond to the Advertiser’s request for comment this week.




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