Complaint against former councillor upheld

On Tuesday 7 June, the Standards Committee considered an investigation into a complaint concerning the conduct of former councillor, Tony Elias.

The complaint alleged Mr Elias breached the Members’ Code of Conduct and that the Council was aware of a situation of bullying and harassment and failed to stop it.

Based on the evidence gathered, the independent Investigating Officer concluded a number of the former councillor’s actions and comments towards the complainant were inappropriate, disrespectful and served to undermine their position within the Council, which constituted a breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct.

In respect of the allegation of bullying and harassment, the Investigating Officer concluded the evidence submitted by the complainant did not support the claim the former councillor’s behaviour was discriminatory or bullying in nature.

Following deliberations and taking into account the views of the Council’s Independent Person, (who is a member of the public appointed to the committee), the committee agreed with the Investigating Officer’s findings that former councillor, Tony Elias, breached the following clauses of the Members’ Code of Conduct which applied at the time of the complaint:

2.1.      Do treat others with respect. In particular, you should promote equality by not discriminating unlawfully against any person and by treating people with respect regardless of their race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. You should also respect the impartiality and integrity of the Council’s employees.

2.2       Do not conduct yourself in a manner which is contrary to the Council’s duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by Members.

In addition, the committee issued the following apology to the officer:

“The Chair of the Committee apologises wholeheartedly regarding the behaviour of former councillor, Tony Elias, towards you, which was found to be in breach of the code and for the time it has taken for this matter to be determined.”

The committee also agreed the outcome would be communicated to all councillors and staff and made public, as part of the duty imposed on the Council by Section 27(1) of the Localism Act 2011 to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by councillors.

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