Regular readers of this Blog will be aware of my most recent run-in with the Standards Board - the body who believe in principled local politics, which was set up at your expense to champion and promote high standards of conduct amongst our local politicians - but when is a politician a politician?
After a lengthy and protracted investigation by a highly paid consultant- for which you the taxpayer have to pick up the tab, I was cleared of all of the plethora of spurious and salacious allegations made by the complainant, Mr Mike Whitley, apart from one point for which I received the most insignificant sanction possible, a ‘censure’.
The points at issue appear to be that my blog is somehow considered an ‘official blog’ (as detailed in the Committee’s determination) and through it I conduct ‘the business of the council’ - and whether the Councillors code of conduct can be applied to those of you who comment on posts that I publish. It is clear and obvious that the answer is no in each case with some serious implications for free speech and the rule of law arising from the judgement.
You might have thought that the decision would be the end of it, but no. The details of the case have to be published in a local newspaper. So yesterday, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Monitoring Officer published a notice detailing the findings. This included all the discredited allegations made against me.
In making his complaints Mr Whitley attempted to hide behind anonymity but was not allowed to do so – given that ruling, it is inconsistent that the complainant’s name was withheld from the notice. This means that the details of the unfounded accusations are laid bare for everyone to see but not the name of the person making them.
In many situations this would be perfectly acceptable but one of the reasons Mr Whitley was not allowed to hide his involvement is his habitual use of the Standards Board. He has made two other unsubstantiated and thoroughly discredited allegations against me and many separate complaints against other members of Gilberdyke Parish Council – all of which had to be investigated at taxpayer’s cost before being thrown out. He also made complaints about me to the Police which were without foundation and also dismissed. Not forgetting a complaint to the Police against the contractors installing the new culvert in Gilberdyke - they were accused of fly tipping the excavated soil at the side of the dyke! The motives for all this I cannot comment on.
Readers will be aware that Mr Whitley is a failed political opponent of mine, and the complaint was made in the run up to the May 2011 elections. Are these the actions of a concerned citizen or a political campaign using the taxpayer to fund a cynical attempt to gain some sort of electoral advantage? It’s not for me to decide.
These facts could not be tested as a part of my defence. Political exchanges between Councillors are considered to be ‘Rough and Tumble’- all part of the process. However this does not apply to candidates who are treated as any other member of the public. There are no standards applied to those would-be politicians seeking office.
So in a nutshell I cannot allow you as my blog readers to express your moderate opinions - but an unelected candidate can make wild, unsubstantiated accusations against me, and my fellow Parish Councillors including such things as embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, hiding money and siphoning off money, and make so many vexatious complaints to the Standards Committee and the Police. All of which are time consuming and costly to investigate – but when these accusations are found to be untrue the complainants name is kept out of the public domain – DOUBLE STANDARDS perhaps?