Councillor censured for breaking code of conduct

Cllr Brett was censured for his actions.
Cllr Brett was censured for his actions.

A local councillor has been reprimanded after using his council computer to email asking for help to distribute party political election leaflets.

Tay Bridgehead councillor Tim Brett used his work computer and email to send a request for volunteers to help him hand out leaflets.

His actions broke the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, which states members must not use council equipment for their own party’s political gain.

Cllr Brett appeared before a panel at the Standards Commission for Scotland (SCS) on Monday, where he was censured for his actions.

The sanction means that SCS determined he had breached the code, but it noted his position that it was the result of an inadvertent mistake rather than a deliberate attempt to exploit his position.

Mrs Lindsey Gallanders, chair of the hearing panel, said: “While in this case the hearing panel acknowledged the councillors’ position that his actions were the result of an inadvertent mistake, it’s is nevertheless important that we hold him to account by conducting a fair and independent public hearing.

“While the hearing panel are pleased to note Councillor Brett accepts he breached the Code and has apologised for doing so, it nevertheless considers that he should have been aware of the prohibition in the Code in respect of using council facilities for party political or campaigning activities.

“He should have taken extra care to avoid doing so, particularly given the proximity of the local government and general elections.

“The panel was pleased to note that Cllr Brett recognised the need for councillors to be sensitive to how others would view their communications to ensure they avoid any perceptions that they are seeking to exploit any relationship developed through constituency for party political purposes.”

Speaking at the hearing, Cllr Brett said: “The facts in this case are not disputed.

“I have been a councillor for 15 years and this is the first occasion that I have appeared before the Standards Commission. I am a diligent and hard working councillor who takes his responsibilities to his constituents seriously.

“This has taught me a lesson , I do not routinely use my council emails for campaigning purposes and will not do so in future.”

The SCS is an independent body, responsible for encouraging high standards of behaviour by councillors and those appointed to public boards.