Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Declarations of personal and prejudicial interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, any relevant financial or other interest in the items on this agenda.


None at this meeting.




The committee met to conduct a hearing into allegations of breaches of the Councillor’s Code of Conduct by Councillor Bertha Joseph.  Having confirmed that the meeting was quorate, the Chair opened the meeting and introduced those present.  Members confirmed that they had received the Procedure Note for the Hearing. 


The committee was advised that Councillor Joseph had contacted Democratic Services that afternoon, and confirmed that she would not be attending the hearing.  She had stated that, while not wishing to disrespect the committee, she was concerned that the hearing would take place in public and become a ‘political circus’.  Additionally, Councillor Joseph advised that earlier in the day she had suffered a bereavement, her brother, and had to attend prayers that evening.  The Monitoring Officer advised that the committee needed to decide whether to proceed in her absence. The committee was advised to take into account Councillor Joseph’s representations.  The committee noted that Councillor Joseph had raised concerns in her pre-hearing questionnaire at the possibility of the press and public being present at a hearing in public and had said in that document she would attend if it was held in private.  The Monitoring Officer advised that Councillor Joseph had been written to twice reminding her of the meeting.  The committee considered that Councillor Joseph had received sufficient notice of the hearing, indications were that she would not attend a hearing while there was a risk that it could take place in public and, in the absence of further detailed information on her bereavement, the committee decided the hearing should proceed. 


The committee AGREED to proceed in the absence of the member concerned.


Councillor Colwill asked that his dissent from the decision to proceed in Councillor Joseph’s absence be recorded.


The committee next considered whether to exclude the press and public from the hearing.  The Monitoring Officer outlined concerns expressed by Councillor Joseph about holding the hearing in public in both her pre-hearing questionnaire and in a telephone conversation with Democratic Services earlier that day. The Monitoring Officer set out the test to be applied in deciding whether the hearing should exclude the public, namely  whether the public interest in maintaining confidentiality outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.  Reference was made to the Standards for England guidance.  Members considered the seriousness of the allegations, the need for transparency, the level of public interest given the profile of the office held by Councillor Joseph at the time the alleged incidents took place and the fact that the report in relation to this matter was already in the public domain.  The committee agreed that the press and public would not be excluded from the hearing but would be asked to leave at the stages when the committee deliberated.


The committee went on to consider whether the papers for the hearing should be disclosed and, if so, which papers.  The Monitoring Officer recommended that the report from Claire Lefort, the Investigator, be made public but that the appendices  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.