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Report from Full Council 10 January 2013

Catmose Offices

Published Friday 11 January 2013

Councillors at Rutland County Council have taken the decision to seek an injunction to “prevent harassment of the Chief Executive and other officers by the Rutland Anti-Corruption Group and its members”.

The option of taking legal action for defamation is not being pursued at this time.

The special meeting of Full Council (10 January 2013) also voted 23 (for) – 0 (against) – 3 (abstained) to support the Chief Executive or council officers who wish to bring legal action for harassment against members of the Rutland Anti-Corruption Group.

The decision by Councillors was taken against the backdrop of a detailed legal report, produced by local government law specialists Bevan Brittan, requested by Members at the October meeting of Full Council.The report said the actions of the Anti-Corruption Group are damaging the ability of the council to recruit outstanding officers, hampering efforts to secure external funding for education and recreation, and distracting senior officers from doing their job.

The report included a number of examples of email correspondence from Councillors Gale, Richardson and Wainwright which led legal experts to conclude that “the nature and extent” of emails sent to the Chief Executive “are very likely to amount to harassment”.

The report also featured examples of email correspondence from the group which [falsely] claim the council is manipulating land deals, flouting financial rules and regulations, as well as trying to manipulate the award of contracts.

Speaking after the meeting, Council Leader Roger Begy commented “We have a Chief Executive and staff team who are simply doing their jobs to the very best of their ability. Of course they should be subject to scrutiny and challenge as that is the basis of local democracy. However, they should not have to put up with false allegations about their conduct and regular questioning of their integrity and honesty.  As Councillors we have to protect our staff, and this decision sends out a strong message.”

Councillor Begy added: “We totally support open and transparent debate and argument in meetings that are held in public so everyone is aware of issues and all able to answer and account.

The full decision of 10 January Special Council was as follows:

·        Authorise the authority to take legal action to seek an injunction to prevent harassment of the Chief Executive and other officers by the Anti-Corruption Group and its members;

·        Resolve to grant an indemnity to, and support the Chief Executive and/or other officers, to take legal action in her/their own name(s) for harassment by the Anti-Corruption Group and its members;

·        Resolve that all communications to any part of the Council from the Anti-Corruption Group and its members be subject to a Single Point of Contact, subject to periodic report back from the Chief Executive.  Also, that members of the Rutland Anti-Corruption Group use the secure GCSX council email system.

·        Authorise sufficient council funds be made available for these purposes

 

A number of options that were available were not agreed at the meeting, but deferred to be potentially considered at some point in the future.  These included taking action in respect of defamation, asking the Chief Executive to make a complaint to the police, and carrying out a wider review into the impact of the group.

For more information please visit http://www.rutland.gov.uk/

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