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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Council Offices, Monkton Park, Chippenham, SN15 1ER. View directions

Contact: Pam Denton  Email: pam.denton@wiltshire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chairman

To elect a Chairman for this meeting only

Minutes:

Nominations for a Chairman of the Standards Hearing Sub-Committee were sought, and it was,

 

Resolved:

 

To elect Councillor Julian Johnson as Chairman for this meeting only.

 

2.

Chairman's Welcome, Introduction and Announcements

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the sub-committee members and others present at the meeting.   

3.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors are requested to declare any pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests.

Minutes:

Councillor Caswill advised the sub-committee that he serves on the Police Authority with Councillor Humphries.

 

Councillors Johnson and While advised that they are members of the Conservative Group alongside Councillor Humphries.

The sub-committee were satisfied in each case that this did not affect their ability to hear the case fairly and impartially.

 

4.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

To consider passing the following resolution:

 

To agree that in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 to exclude the public from the meeting for the business specified in Item Number 5 because it is likely that if members of the public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in  paragraph 7(c) of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Act and the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information to the public.

 

Minutes:

Each party having confirmed that they had no objection to the matter being heard in public, the sub-committee agreed that in the interests of transparency the matter should be heard in public.

Following submissions from the subject member’s solicitor the sub-committee were provided with an unredacted copy of the agenda papers in case it became necessary to refer to these during the hearing, in which event consideration would be given to dealing with that part in closed session.


5.

Standards Committee Hearing Complaint regarding the alleged conduct of Councillor Christopher Humphries of Wiltshire Council

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

As the parties had previously been advised, the first part of the meeting was set aside to deal with preliminary procedural issues.

 

Mr Keith-Lucas submitted that he and the subject member had received late notification on the previous day that the complainant would be a party to the proceedings and would be legally represented by counsel.  He objected strongly on both points on the grounds that this was unfair to Cllr Humphries and a gross breach of natural justice as he would be facing challenge on two fronts - by the council and by the complainant. He submitted further that if the sub-committee decided to proceed on that basis he and Cllr Humphries would withdraw and take no further part in the proceedings. 

 

After hearing representations from Mr Cain and Mr Harris the sub-committee left the meeting at 10.30am to consider these matters.

 

The sub-committee returned to the meeting at 11.10am and the Chairman announced the sub-committee’s decision as follows:

1. The sub-committee is a sub-committee of the Council and as such were following the procedure adopted by the Council on 26 June 2012, which came into effect on 1 July 2012.The sub-committee were satisfied that the procedure was fair and lawful.

 

2. In that procedure, at paragraph 2.10, the complainant is included as a party and the procedure sets out their right of participation.  This procedure had been available to the subject member since its adoption.

 

3. No decision had been made on the question of legal representation for Ms Densham in advance of the hearing, but it was made clear in an e-mail to Mr Keith-Lucas and his client on 2 October that it would be considered as a preliminary issue at the hearing.

 

4. The complainant was entitled to legal representation to ensure fairness, bearing in mind the other parties were legally represented.

 

5. The sub-committee had examined the e-mail correspondence referred to by Mr Keith-Lucas and could find nothing to contradict the conclusion reached by the sub-committee. .

 

At this point Mr Keith-Lucas reiterated that he and his client would take no further part in the proceedings. They were invited to reconsider their position but did not wish to do so. They were also given the opportunity to address the sub-committee on how the hearing should proceed in their absence.

At 11.15am the sub-committee withdrew to consider the position reached.

During this recess informal discussions took place between all three parties’ legal representatives and the Monitoring Officer about how the hearing should proceed in the absence of the subject member.  Mr Keith-Lucas indicated that he would still expect the sub-committee to consider the three preliminary points that had been raised in Cllr Humphries e-mail dated 24 May 2012.  He was given the opportunity to make oral or written submissions to the sub-committee on the future conduct of the hearing but declined to take this up and then left with Cllr Humphries.

The sub-committee were advised of the position. They consulted the Independent Person, Caroline Baynes,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

Findings of Fact

Supporting documents:

 

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