Former deputy leader fails to overturn code of conduct ruling, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter, and James Cracknell
A councillor at the centre of bullying allegations has had his appeal quashed by Enfield Council’s conduct committee.
The committee upheld an earlier ruling by the council monitoring officer that Daniel Anderson bullied officials and breached the code of conduct. It means the original sanctions against Cllr Anderson – to apologise, promise not to repeat the behaviour, and be excluded from council offices for two months – still apply.
The verdict came at a committee meeting after almost two-and-a-half hours of private debate.
Following the discussion, committee chair Claire Stewart announced to the public: “The conduct committee has decided that we uphold the decision of the monitoring officer and the recommended sanctions.
“The only avenue available to Cllr Anderson is the Local Government Ombudsman.”
Cllr Anderson, who represents Southgate Green for the new Community First group after quitting Labour in August, waited more than six months to have his appeal heard after being told of monitoring officer Jeremy Chambers’ ruling at the start of this year.
The decision followed two separate complaints about Cllr Anderson’s conduct from four council officers. Three claimed the former council deputy leader engaged in “threatening and uncontrolled” behaviour, while a fourth alleged Cllr Anderson threatened him with physical assault. Cllr Anderson subsequently issued a statement “emphatically” denying the allegations and findings of the investigation, as well as criticising the report into his conduct.
Ahead of the conduct committee meeting, members of the public were unable to view the investigation report, the monitoring officer’s ruling, or Cllr Anderson’s appeal. These documents were classed as confidential because of “the nature of the allegations and the seniority of the majority of the officers involved”, according to a council report.
Following the meeting, Cllr Anderson described it as a “stitch-up” and said: “The public were denied the opportunity to hear and see the evidence. They saw one minute at the beginning, one minute verdict at the end, and 2.5 hours of a blank screen.
“It was a travesty of democracy, let alone natural justice, but then given the implication of what I was saying it was not surprising that the council hierarchy wanted this suppressed.
“I am now looking at all avenues and am in discussion with my legal adviser.”
The Local Government Ombudsman does not offer a right of appeal against a council’s decision on member conduct complaints but can consider if there was fault in the way the local authority considered the complaint. The Ombudsman’s website states: “We will only investigate complaints if there is sufficient injustice to warrant our involvement or we consider it in the public interest to do so.”