CODE : Integrity
CODE - Referred to Standards Committee
Wrexham County Borough Council
The Ombudsman received a complaint from a member of the public that a Member of Brymbo Community Council and Wrexham County Borough Council had breached the Code of Conduct (“the Code”) when he made an alleged false complaint about the complainant to the Police, relating to an incident which occurred on a bus.
The Member had emailed the Police and stated that the complainant had been very aggressive, and he believed her behaviour amounted to a breach of the peace or a public order offence. He was also concerned about personal comments made to him by the complainant. He suggested that he had been subject to unwarranted verbal abuse.
The Ombudsman obtained information from the Police and CCTV footage from the bus company. Having considered the information available, he did not consider that the complainant appeared aggressive as suggested by the Member, and he found that the comments made by the complainant related to issues which were public knowledge. On the basis of the information available, he did not consider they could reasonably be considered “verbal abuse”.
The Ombudsman concluded that the Member’s correspondence to the Police was misleading or exaggerated and that his behaviour was suggestive of a breach of paragraph 7(a) of the Code of Conduct. The Ombudsman also concluded that attempting to misuse his position in this way and wrongly accusing someone of committing a public order offence is capable of bringing the Member’s office or authority into disrepute and is suggestive of a breach of paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct.
The Ombudsman therefore referred his report to the Monitoring Officer of Wrexham County Borough Council for consideration by its Standards Committee.
The Standards Committee determined that the Member had breached paragraphs 6(1)(a) and 7(a) of the Code and suspended him from both Councils for 3 months.