Venue: Burnley Town Hall
Contact: Imelda Grady Democracy Officer
Appointment of Chair
Councillor Tony Martin was appointed as Chair of the meeting.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the previous Standards Hearing Panel meeting on the 23rd July 2019.
That the Minutes of the Standards Hearing held on the 23rd July 2019 be approved as a correct record.
Exclusion of the Public
To determine during which items, if any, the public are to be excluded from the meeting.
It was determined that the public were not to be excluded
from the meeting for any item, after deciding that the balance of public interest favoured holding the whole meeting in public.
To consider the Arrangements for dealing with complaints under the Code of Conduct for Members (Appendix to Part 5.1 of the constitution)
The procedure that was followed for the hearing was noted and introductions were made.
The Hearing Panel conducted a hearing into allegations that Councillor Sue Graham had breached the Council’s Code of Conduct for Members by referring to UKIP members as racists in the context of forming an administration, and therefore had failed to treat others with respect and had brought the Council and herself into disrepute.
The hearing was conducted in accordance with the Council’s arrangements for investigating and taking decisions on alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct and the procedure was agreed by the Panel.
The Investigating Officer, Catherine Waudby, who had carried out an investigation into the allegations presented her report as well as the further written materials previously submitted by Cllr Graham and also correspondence regarding the local resolution process in this case..
The Panel carefully considered the investigation report, and also asked the Investigating Officer a number of questions.
Councillor Sue Graham attended the hearing and was accompanied by Peter Thorne, and they presented Cllr Graham’s case.
The Panel asked the Investigating Officer, Councillor Sue Graham and Peter Thorne to leave so that it could consider its findings.
Before considering its findings, the Panel took into account and had regard to the views of the Independent Person who was Pat Higginbottom.
The Panel and all parties reconvened and gave its decision and reasons.
The Hearing Panel found that Councillor Sue Graham had breached the Council’s Code of Conduct for Members in relation to respect (section 3.1) by failing to treat others with respect,but had not breached the Code in relation to disrepute (section 5).
Reasons for decision
The action by Councillor Sue Graham in referring to UKIP members as racists did refer to the 3 Councillors who at the time of the post were in UKIP (Councillors Tom Commis, Peter Gill, and Alan Hosker) , and the action was in the context of arrangements under discussion at the time to form a Council administration.
The Panel then asked Councillor Sue Graham, Peter Thorne and the Investigating Officer to leave so that it could consider the actions it might take regarding the breach of respect and disrepute.
Before considering any action to be taken, the Panel took into account and had regard to the views of the Independent Person.
The Panel and all parties reconvened and delivered the following sanctions;
1. That the Panel publish its findings in respect of Councillor Sue Graham’s conduct;
2. That the Panel report its finding to the Council for information; and
3. That Councillor Graham be recommended to provide an apology at the next Ordinary Full Council to the 3 Councillors (Councillors Tom Commis, Peter Gill, and Alan Hosker) who were in UKIP at the time of the post regarding the breach of respect and the failure to treat them with respect.
The Hearings Panel noted that Councillor Sue Graham was not available for the Full Council Meeting of 18th December 2019 and requested that Councillor Sue Graham provided an apology to the 3 Councillors as soon as practicable.
Councillor Sue ... view the full minutes text for item 26.