Well, what a total farce. You may remember the post about an accusation made against the Provost of Angus by an opposition Councillor. You can read my comment on it here.
I stand by what I said in my earlier post about this. In my view it is a pathetic episode that signals a new low for local government. The Provost apparently would have had to have taken 5 or 6 steps to delvier what were allegedly two 'forceful' 'slaps' on the backside. A member of staff who witnessed the event gave (unsurprisingly) a different version however.
I believe that if it had been as the complainant described it, then it was assault and should have been a matter for the police rather than the Standards Commissioner. It speaks volumes in my view that this was the path it took.
It is not just the total farce of this whole, shoddy episode. Its not just the manner in which people have been shaking their heads in disbelief about it. Its not even the anger I feel that this garbage has been needlessly hanging over the Provost's head for some time. I mean, how much did this pantomime cost? How much time, effort and resources were diverted away from more important things than this petulant drivel?
Below is the result of the investigation, and below that is a link to the complainants response which was broadcast on TV.
3. The person complaining, Councillor Glennis Middleton ("the complainant") alleged that as they were about to enter the Council Chamber for a meeting of Angus Council on 8 November 2007, the respondent slapped her on the behind twice and called her a "naughty girl". The complainant felt this to be offensive and demeaning behaviour. She alleged that it breached the requirement for councillors to treat each other with respect and contravened the Key Principles of Leadership and Respect set out in the Code.
4. The incident complained of took place on the stair landing outside the Council Chamber at Town and County Hall, Forfar. The complainant had been delayed by a telephone call and arrived at the entrance door of the Chamber after other councillors had gone in. The Provost, accompanied by the Council Officer, was on the landing, about to go in and start the meeting. The complainant apologised for being tardy and asked the Provost if she would wait a moment while she got a drink from the water cooler on the landing.
5. There were, therefore, three parties present when the action complained of occurred. The complainant stated that the contact was offensive to her and forceful. She believed it was intentional because it was her recollection that the respondent was standing at the door of the Chamber and would have had to take five or six steps across the landing to reach her and slap her at the water cooler.
6. The Council Officer's evidence was that there was indeed a gesture by the Provost. However, he indicated that the circumstances were not as the complainant believed them to be in that Councillor Leslie Melville did not cross the landing and intentionally go towards Councillor Middleton. Rather, the Provost was standing with her back to the stair window and, as witnessed by the Council Officer, made a friendly 'gee up' gesture as Councillor Middleton passed by her. Having witnessed the gesture, and although he thought the Provost made contact with Councillor Middleton, it was the Council Officer's view that no malicious intent could be attached. The respondent, herself, stated that she had no recollection of the alleged incident and insisted that if there was any contact it was inadvertent.
7. I found the evidence of the Council Officer frank and convincing, and I considered that he gave a reliable description of what passed just before the Council meeting. Essentially, it was to the effect that there was a "gee up" gesture by the respondent which made contact with the complainant but which was a friendly act and made in that spirit, and I find accordingly. In this case, therefore, I did not consider that there was any action by Councillor Ruth Leslie Melville which would justify a finding that the Councillors' Code of Conduct had been breached by her. I hope this episode will not affect the future relationships between the councillors concerned. It would be sad, indeed, and of no benefit whatever to the citizens of Angus if their elected representatives did not try to get along with each other in the conduct of Council business.
8. Having considered the information that arose from my investigation, I concluded that Councillor Ruth Leslie Melville had not contravened the Councillors' Code of Conduct.
You can see the complainants response to the findings on TV here.