Agenda and minutes

Venue: Round Room - Wallasey Town Hall. View directions

No. Item



The members of the panel are invited to consider whether they have a personal or prejudicial interest in connection with any of the items on this agenda and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of such interest.





Members of the panel were invited to consider whether they had a personal or prejudicial interest in connection with any of the items on this agenda and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of such interest.  No declarations were made.




RECOMMENDATION:  That, under section 100 (A) (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined by the relevant paragraphs of Part I of Schedule 12A (as amended) to that Act.





The Hearings Panel was asked to consider whether the hearing should be conducted in private. Having applied the public interest test, the panel decided that the release of the documentation outweighed any argument that it be withheld.






1. Summary of the Complaint


1.1  The complaint relates to Councillor Smith’s conduct at the Annual Meeting of the Council [which met over a number of evenings, but the date in question was] on 20 May 2008.  The complaint states that Councillor Smith, during the course of the debate, directed comments to some of the younger members of the Conservative Group sat opposite him in the Council chamber


1.2  Relevant sections of the Code of Conduct:


The complaint is that Councillor Smith has acted in a manner which amounts to a breach of the Code of Conduct for members of Wirral Council.  The current code was adopted by Council on 21 May 2007.  The relevant parts of the Code are contained within the general obligations in paragraph 3 of the Code:


(i) You must treat others with respect.


(ii) You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute.


1.3  Investigations were carried out by Mr Simon Goacher, Acting Monitoring Officer and Head of Legal Services. 


1.4  Mr Goacher’s report on the allegations was completed on 20 March,2009


1.5  The investigator's report found that there had been a failure to comply with the Code of Conduct. Councillor Smith’s case was therefore referred to the Hearings Panel for determination.


2.  Procedure


2.1  Following receipt of the investigating officer's report, Councillor Smith accepted that he made an inappropriate and offensive comment.


2.2  He indicated that he would attend the hearing and present his case.



3.  Findings of fact


3.1  The findings of fact in the Investigating Officer's report were accepted by the subject member at the hearing .


4.  Written Submissions for Hearing


4.1  Councillor Smith read out a prepared statement indicating:


(i)  that he had never denied making an inappropriate and offensive comment at the Council meeting on 20 May 2008.


(ii)  that he had apologised to the Council verbally and had indicated to the monitoring officer in November 2008 that he was prepared to give a written apology.


(iii)  that he wished to offer an unreserved apology to the Hearing Panel.


(iv)  that some 14 months had elapsed since the incident and he therefore questioned whether it was in the interests of natural justice for the case to be heard after such a long time.


5.  Hearings Panel's decision on whether or not there had been a failure to comply with the Code of Conduct


5.1  The Panel considered the Investigating Officer's report together with the offer on the part of Councillor Harry Smith to submit a written apology to the Council.


5.2  The Panel reached the following decision after considering the Investigating Officer's report and the information referred to in paragraph 4.1 above:


Councillor Harry Smith did breach paragraphs 3(1) and 3(5) of the Code of Conduct by failing to treat others with respect; 


5.3  The reasons for this decision are that foul and abusive language such as that used by Councillor Smith  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.