CODE : Integrity
CODE - Referred to the Adjudication Panel for Wales
Pencoed Town Council
I received a complaint that a Former Councillor of Pencoed Town Council had failed to declare a criminal conviction when he stood for election in 2018 and in doing so had breached the Code of Conduct for elected members.
My investigation found that the Former Councillor had been convicted of an offence in July 2015 and that this conviction disqualified him from standing as an elected member. The Former Councillor stood for election to Pencoed Town Council in November 2018 and could not have done so had they not made a false declaration on their nomination paper. The deception did not come to light until an article featured in a national newspaper in July 2020. The Former Councillor resigned once this information became public but had acted as a member for 1 year and 8 months when he was not eligible to do so.
I considered that the Former Councillor misled the Town Council as to their eligibility to be a Councillor and that their dishonesty, both when signing the declaration of acceptance of office and during the year and 8 months that they acted as a Councillor, was a serious abuse of office which goes against the principles that underpin the Code of Conduct. The Former Councillor did not engage with the investigation and did not give any explanation for their actions or show any remorse.
I considered the Former Member’s actions were suggestive of a breach of paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct and my finding was that the matter should be referred to the President of the Adjudication Panel for Wales for adjudication by a tribunal.
APW heard the case on 10 June 2022 and found that the Former Councillor had been elected on a false premise and that his declaration of acceptance of office, undertaking to abide by the Code continuation in office took place on the same false premise. APW found that the Consent to Nomination and Guidance to Candidates were so clear that it was inconceivable that the Former Councillor was unaware of the fact he was disqualified from being elected and his actions were either deliberate or as the result of extreme recklessness.
APW found that the fact that the Former Councillor was disqualified from being elected and yet continued to act as Member went to the heart of public trust in democracy and undermined the Code and standards regime. The Former Councillor continued to deal with his constituents and act on a false premise and this constituted a clear breach of paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code. It also noted that the significant media and public attention and disquiet, would inevitably bring both the office of Member and his Authority into disrepute.
APW concluded that the Former Councillor should be disqualified for 24 months from being or becoming a member of the Council or any other relevant authority within the meaning of the Local Government Act 2000.