Report Date

12/13/2023

Case Against

Newport City Council

Subject

Promotion of equality and respect

Case Reference Number

202207150

Outcome

No evidence of breach

The Ombudsman received a complaint that a member (“the Member”) of Newport City Council (“the Council”) breached the Code of Conduct (“the Code”) when he approached the complainant on her driveway and accused her of having a camera in her house directed towards his house.  It was alleged that the Member relied upon his position as a councillor to persuade the complainant to let him into her house to check if there was a camera present.

The Ombudsman’s investigation considered whether the Member’s conduct may have breached paragraphs 4(b), 4(c) and 6(1)(a) of the Code.  Information was obtained from the Council.  Witnesses, including the complainant, were interviewed.  The Member was interviewed.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found that the complainant and Member’s version of events differed.  The Member said that he had not referenced his role as a councillor.  The Ombudsman found that there was no independent witness evidence, or any other type of evidence, available to account for what happened during the exchange and accordingly, there was not sufficient evidence to suggest that the Member had referenced his role as a councillor.  As a result, given that there was not sufficient evidence that the Member was acting in his capacity as a councillor during the exchange, most of the provisions of the Code (including the requirement to show respect and consideration to others) were not engaged.  The only relevant provision of the Code which applies at all times, including when the Member was acting in a private capacity, was the obligation not to act in a way which could reasonably be regarded as having brought disrepute upon the Council and/or the office of councillor.  Whilst the complainant reported the incident to the Police, the Police did not speak with the Member about the interaction and took no action in relation to the matter.  In view of this, the Ombudsman found that there was no evidence that the Member had brought his office as councillor or his Council into disrepute.  Therefore, on the balance of the available evidence, the Ombudsman was not persuaded that there was evidence of a breach of the Code.

Accordingly, the Ombudsman found that under Section 69(4)(a) of the Local Government Act 2000 there was no evidence of any failure to comply with the Code.