Report Date


Case Against

Gwynedd Council



Case Reference Number



Referred to Standards Committee

The Ombudsman’s office received a complaint that a member (“the Member”) of Gwynedd Council (“the Council”) had breached the Code of Conduct.  It was alleged that the Member had behaved inappropriately when she responded in German to correspondence she received in Welsh.

The investigation considered whether the Member failed to comply with the following provisions of the Code of Conduct:

  • 4(a) – Members must carry out their duties and responsibilities with due regard to the principle that there should be equality of opportunity for all people, regardless of their gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, age or religion.
  • 4(b) – Members must show respect and consideration for others.
  • 6(1)(a) – Members must not conduct themselves in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing their office or authority into disrepute.

The Member admitted responding to 2 emails written in Welsh, in German.  She expressed remorse and regret for her actions.  She said that she was unaware the Council’s translation services were available to her for this type of correspondence.  However, the investigation found that, given the Member’s length of service, she ought to have known that the Council had a translation service and that responding in German would be perceived as inappropriate.  The Ombudsman therefore considered that the Member’s conduct was indicative of a breach of paragraphs 4(a), 4(b) and 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct.

The report on the investigation was referred to the Monitoring Officer of Gwynedd Council for consideration by the Council’s Standards Committee.

The Standards Committee concluded that the Member had breached paragraphs 4(a), 4(b) and 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct.  Accordingly, the Standards Committee decided that the Member should be suspended for 1 month, be required to attend training and provide a written apology to the Complainant within 3 weeks.  The Standards Committee also recommended for the Council to consider assisting Members when they receive correspondence in a language they do not understand, either by utilising its own staff or by sign-posting the Member to a relevant translation service provider.