Agenda item

Complaint against Town Councillors Jason Fitzgerald Smith, David Lloyd Williams, Jane Ford, Anne Hopkinson and Paul Andrews - Malton Town Council


The Council Solicitor and Monitoring Officer submitted a report (previously circulated) in order to provide advice to Members in relation to the conduct of the hearing of an investigation.


The complaint related to an alleged breach of the Code of Conduct by five Town Councillors.  Following receipt of the complaint in April 2011, it was considered by the Standards Initial Assessment Sub-Committee who determined that the matter merited investigation.

The Monitoring Officer appointed Mr Keith Stevens to investigate the complaint on 27 April 2011, and his report was published on the 23 June 2011.


The outcome of the investigation was considered at a Standards Committee meeting on the 14 July 2011, who considered that the matter be listed for full hearing.


The issues to be determined at the hearing were:-


a.    Whether the actions of the Town Councillors in this matter were covered by paragraph 8(1) (a) (ii) (cc) of the Members’ Code of Conduct.

b.    Whether the Town Councillors all should have registered an interest under paragraph 13 of the Members’ Code of Conduct in relation to this matter.

c.    Whether the Town Councillors all should have made a declaration of a personal interest under paragraph 9 of the Members’ Code of Conduct.


The hearing was conducted in the following manner:


      i.        Stage 1 – Preliminary Issue: Should the hearing be conducted in public.

    ii.        Stages 2 & 3 – What are the facts and do they reveal a breach of the code.  The External Investigator presented his report, and this was followed by the Respondent Councillors response, and witness statements, and questions from members of the Standards Committee.

   iii.        Determination of the appropriate sanction.




            That the hearing be conducted in public.


The Respondent Members sought clarification about why the complainant was not present to give evidence to the hearing.  The Chairman of the Sub-Committee requested Mr Keith Stevens as the Investigating Officer to comment and Dr Ahmad to advise as the Legal Adviser to the Sub-Committee.


Mr Keith Stevens indicated that the way these proceedings operate, the original complainant is not a party once they reach this stage.  The only parties are the Respondents and the Investigating Officer presenting the case.


Dr Ahmad advised the Sub-Committee that Mr Stevens had set out the procedure correctly.  The Investigating Officer’s report is the basis on which the hearing is being conducted.  It is not essential for the complainant to be present, the evidence is from the Investigating Officer’s report and that is sufficient for these hearings.


At each stage the Investigator and Respondent Members were given the opportunity to address the Sub-Committee, and each Member of the Sub-Committee had the opportunity to question them.


Mr Stevens, Investigating Officer presented his report, and answered questions from the Committee Members and Councillors P Andrews, J Fitzgerald-Smith, J Ford, A Hopkinson and D Lloyd-Williams were also given the opportunity to question Mr Stevens.


The five Town Councillors also made statements, and were questioned by Committee Members and Mr Stevens.  In addition, Mr M Skehan, Malton Town Clerk and Mr A Winship, Council Solicitor and Monitoring Officer for Ryedale District Council addressed the hearing and provided further information.


The Sub-Committee retired to consider its decision at each stage of the hearing and on its return the Chairman delivered the Sub-Committee’s findings as detailed in the attached Decision Notice.




            To determine the complaint as set out in the Decision Notice attached as a supplement to these minutes.

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