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Agenda item

Complaint against a Member of City of York Council

To consider a complaint made against Cllr Keith Aspden, a Member of City of York Council, which has been referred to the Hearings Sub-Committee for determination following an investigation.

 

Details of the procedure to be followed at the hearing can be found at pages 191 to 195 of the agenda papers.

 

[Note: This agenda has been re-published to include the Decision Notice from the meeting. The Decision Notice will be published as an annex to the minutes at a later stage]

 

Minutes:

The Panel considered a complaint made against Cllr Keith Aspden, a City of York Councillor.  The complaint related to the actions of Cllr Aspden in relation to the recruitment of a council officer.       

 

The matter had been referred to the Hearings Sub-Committee for determination following an investigation.

 

Introductions were carried out and the procedure for the hearing was explained.

 

Determining factual disputes

 

Copies of the investigator’s report and the written submissions received had been circulated to the Panel and to the parties prior to the meeting.  During the meeting the Panel took advice from the Independent Person.

 

The investigating officers presented their report and responded to questions.

 

The following witnesses responded to questions from the Panel, the Monitoring Officer, the Independent Person, Cllr Aspden’s barrister and the investigating officers:

 

·        Person A

·        Person C (Martin Crosby)

·        Person D       

 

Cllr Aspden’s barrister presented the Subject Member’s case and responded to questions.

 

The investigating officers summarised their case.

 

Cllr Aspden’s barrister summarised the Subject Member’s case.

 

[The parties, press and public then left the meeting whilst the Panel deliberated in private, returning to hear the Panel’s findings]

 

The Panel gave consideration to the following allegations of breaches of the Code of Conduct:

 

a)   That Cllr Aspden used his position as a councillor improperly to obtain an advantage for an administrative role, contrary to paragraph 3(8) of the Code of Conduct, by reason of his involvement in the recruitment process whilst having a personal interest.

 

b)   That Cllr Aspden disclosed confidential information (the paper applications for the administrative role), contrary to paragraph 3(5) of the Code.

 

c)   That Cllr Aspden, by failing to follow paragraphs 3(5) and 3(8) of the Code in relation to the appointment of the administrative role, acted in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing the Council or his position as a councillor into disrepute, contrary to paragraph 3(7) of the Code.

 

Panel’s Findings

 

Having considered the written documentation and the verbal representations made at the meeting, the Panel

 

Resolved:  (i)      That, in respect of allegation a), Cllr Aspden did not use his position as a councillor improperly to obtain an advantage for an administrative role, contrary to paragraph 3(8) of the Code of Conduct, by reason of his involvement in the process whilst having a personal interest.

 

Reason:     While the Panel are concerned about how Cllr Aspden came to be involved in the appointment process, they are not satisfied that he had at that time a close association with the successful candidate.

 

                   (ii)      That, in respect of allegation b), Cllr Aspden did disclose confidential information (about the applications for the administrative role), contrary to paragraph 3(5) of the Code.

 

Reason:     On the balance of probabilities the Panel, faced with two conflicting views, are not sufficiently satisfied that that application forms of candidates for the Executive Support Assistant post were physically taken to the Duke of York pub on the evening of 26 June 2015.  But all of those present at that meeting gave evidence that there was discussion about the qualities needed in the successful appointee.  On the balance of probabilities, taking account of the evidence of all those who have indicated their presence at the meeting, the Panel are satisfied that information about candidates, at least about Persons B and H, was improperly shared at that meeting.

 

(iii)     That, in respect of allegation c), Cllr Aspden did not act in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing the council, or his position as a councillor, into disrepute, contrary to paragraph 3(7) of the Code.

 

Reason:     The Panel do not consider that the breach of paragraph 3(5) of the Code in this case was such as could reasonably be regarded as bringing the council or Cllr Aspden’s position as councillor into disrepute.

 

Determining Sanctions

 

The Chair indicated that, in the circumstances, the Panel were not minded to impose any sanction for the breach.

 

Cllr Aspden’s barrister was then invited to make representations as to the sanction she believed to be appropriate. 

 

Having heard those submissions, the Panel

 

Resolved:  That no further action be taken in respect of the breach of the Code of Conduct beyond publicising the Panel’s decision.

 

[The Decision Notice issued following this meeting is attached as an annex to the minutes]

 

Supporting documents:

 

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