CODE : Disclosure & registration of interest
CODE - No Action Necessary
Abertillery & Llanhilleth Community Council
The Ombudsman received a complaint from a Member of Abertillery & Llanhilleth Community Council (“the Council”) against a fellow Member (at that time) (“the Former Member”). It was alleged that the Former Member had failed to appropriately declare an interest in Human Resources (“HR”) matters relating to the Former Clerk to the Council and had improperly gained an advantage for himself.
The investigation found that the Former Member, following receipt of incorrect advice from the Council’s Deputy Clerk, had failed to declare a personal or prejudicial interest in HR matters relating to the Former Clerk, despite there being an ongoing Ombudsman investigation at the time of a complaint against the Former Member by the Former Clerk. The Former Member voted on a settlement agreement between the Council and the Former Clerk.
The investigation concluded that the Former Member should have declared a personal and prejudicial interest in matters relating to the Former Clerk, given the ongoing investigation. The failure to do so was suggestive of a breach of paragraphs 11 and 14 of the Code of Conduct.
The investigation did not find that the Former Member’s failure to declare a personal or prejudicial interest directly led to an advantage being gained for himself. The investigation also found that the evidence did not support a finding of “disrepute” in breach of paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct. The Former Member’s actions were strongly mitigated by the incorrect advice he received in relation to his duty to play no part in the decision. Also, there was no direct evidence that his actions caused an advantage for himself, and the agreement would have been approved even if the Former Member had not played a part in the meeting. It was therefore concluded that no further action was necessary.
A recommendation was made to the Council for members and staff to receive training on the Code of Conduct, particularly in relation to personal and prejudicial interests, as soon as possible.