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Note: Allegation of Breach of Members' Code of Conduct
Election of Chair
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED THAT:
Councillor Mrs L M Broadley be appointed Chair.
Apologies for Absence
Declarations of Interest
Members are reminded that any declaration of interest should be made having regard to the Members’ Code of Conduct. In particular, Members must make clear the nature of the interest and whether it is 'pecuniary' or ‘non-pecuniary'.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
The press and public are likely to be excluded from the remainder of the hearing in accordance with Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 (Exempt Information) during consideration of the item(s) below on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information, as defined in the respective paragraph(s) 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act and, in all the circumstances, the public interest in maintaining the exempt item(s) outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
By affirmation of the hearing, it was
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED THAT:
The press and public should not be excluded from the remainder of the hearing, as the report and discussions thereon did not involve the likely disclosure of exempt information, and the public interest in disclosing the information outweighed Councillor Thakor’s interest in maintaining confidentiality.
Report for Determination
Determination of a report of the Deputy Monitoring Officer relating to an allegation of a breach of the Code of Conduct by Councillor Ravendra H Thakor.
The Sub-Committee gave consideration to the report as set out on pages 1-34 of the agenda, which asked it to adjudicate on Councillor Thakor’s alleged breach of the Code of Conduct and subsequent failure to provide an apology to Councillor M L Darr and Ms Veronika Quintyne at the request of the Monitoring Officer.
The Monitoring Officer provided the Sub-Committee with a summary of the report and outlined the possible sanctions available to the Sub-Committee, should they be satisfied that a breach of Code of Conduct had occurred.
The Sub-Committee noted that to their knowledge this was the third occasion on which a Determination hearing had been convened to consider matters relating to Councillor Thakor’s failure to adhere to the Members’ Code of Conduct. This provided the Sub-Committee with a clear indication that the extensive advice provided by the Monitoring Officer and the range of sanctions previously imposed (which had included censure, mandatory training and temporary removal from Committees) had not brought about any improvement in the standard of conduct demonstrated by Councillor Thakor towards fellow Members and Officers of the Council. The Sub-Committee also felt that Councillor Thakor’s non-attendance at the hearing and general lack of engagement with the standards process demonstrated a distinct lack of accountability and moral and ethical principles.
In terms of the email sent by Councillor Thakor to Ms Quintyne, the Sub-Committee unanimously agreed that the choice of wording used within the email was not only defamatory and abusive towards a number of Liberal Democrat Councillors attending the Forum, but also particularly disrespectful and misinformed with regard to the comments directed at Ms Quintyne. The Sub-Committee concurred with the view of the Independent Person that whilst within a political environment there is legitimate scope for fair comment and criticism of the behaviour of others, the comments made by Councillor Thakor unquestionably crossed the line of acceptability and as a consequence brought his office, his political party and the Authority into disrepute. As a standard, the Sub-Committee agreed that the type of language used by Councillor Thakor would not be tolerated in Parliament, and added no purpose or value to the quality of any debate.
The Sub-Committee noted that since September 2018 the Monitoring Officer and his Deputy had invested a significant amount of time and effort in seeking to resolve the matter informally by offering Councillor Thakor the opportunity to withdraw his comments and make a written apology to Councillor Darr and Ms Quintyne. It was suggested by the Sub-Committee that Councillor Thakor’s subsequent refusal to apologise outside of the emotive meeting environment only provided further evidence of a lack of respect towards Officers and contemptuous attitude towards the Code of Conduct and the Monitoring Officer’s role in upholding its integrity.
The Sub-Committee concluded that based on the evidence it had seen, all bar one of the sanctions available under the current Code of Conduct should be imposed, to send the clearest possible message that conduct such as that displayed by Councillor Thakor cannot be ... view the full minutes text for item 15.