Conduct Committee

I gather than the Press and Journal are likely to appeal to the Information Commissioner regarding Aberdeenshire Council's refusal to release the papers relating to Cllr Ian Tait's suspension.

Cllr Tait has made it clear that he is willing for the material to be released .... and the reasons cited today for refusal in the P&J do seem to fall into the categories that allow information to be exempt from publication - see for full story. The reasons for refusal were quoted as
The panel decided that “the public interest in maintaining the exemptions outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information”.

Its refusal notice added: “The review panel considered that public authorities should be entitled to carry out what are essentially disciplinary investigations outwith the public glare.”

The following quote from the Information Commissioner's website is interesting

Q. Can the authority often decide it is in the public interest to keep information secret?

A. When the authority is deciding whether it is in the public interest to provide information or not, it cannot and should not take the following into account:

  • the possibility of embarrassment to officials
  • the possible loss of confidence in the authority
  • the seniority of the people involved, or
  • the risk of you misinterpreting the information

I asked for the material to be released to me as a councillor (not into the public domain) so that I would know exactly what Cllr Tait is accused of. This was refused and I have since operated on the assumption of innocence as I believe such matters should be dealt with by the independent Standads Commission rather than an internal Conduct Committee.

I hope the Information Commissioner makes quick ruling - the sooner the facts are in the public domain the better for everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Cllr Ian Tait's move to have the papers discussed by the Conduct Committee failed at Full Council yesterday = perhaps influenced by an unfortunate exchange between Cllr Tait and Provost Bill Howatson.

    So I am little wiser about what Cllr Tait has done and whether the sanction is merited - save for Cllr Chapman's comments from his discussions with the complainant.

    The Council also refused to allow Ian Tait to release the paper to the Public Servcies Ombudsman.

    Openness and transparency?


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