More councillors, and others, face bar from public office

Recently, while noting the decision by the Local Government Auditor[LGA] that serving and former councillors on Fermanagh District Council were guilty of wilful misconduct and faced being barred from public office, I noted that there had not been an update on a similar case involving Newry and Mourne councillors.. That update is now in. The LGA has upheld the complaint and the councillors have 14 days to appeal. Otherwise it’s a £10,000 surcharge and barred from public office for 5 years.. among those affected is SF MLA Davy Hyland.

  • I can’t see them being disbared, that opinion is not supported by the relevant leglislation.

  • Pete Baker

    Well.. I mentioned that particular legislation back on the original thread on the Newry and Mourne councillors here

    “I think this section of the Local Government Act(Northern Ireland) 1972 may be relevant.

    82.4

    (4) If a certificate under this section relates to a loss or deficiency caused by the wilful misconduct of a person who is, or was at the time of such misconduct, a member of the council concerned and the amount certified to be due from him exceeds £2,000, that person shall be disqualified for being elected or being a member of a council for the period of five years beginning on the ordinary date on which the period allowed for bringing an appeal against a decision to give the certificate expires or, if such an appeal is brought, the date on which the appeal is finally disposed of or abandoned or fails for non-prosecution.”

    Your interpretation of that legislation is, of course, taken under advisement.. but it’s legislation that refers to a loss or deficiency caused by the wilful misconduct of an individual councillor.

    However, it’s perfectly reasonable to interpret the total amount certified to be due [£2000] as being the significant factor – as that is the injury to the electorate resulting from the wilful misconduct.

  • Very little interpetation needed Pete

    It is very clear, if the amount certified is more than £2,000 then you are disbarred.

    If it isn’t then you are not and the case law backs up that interpetation.

  • Pete Baker

    Once again, Chris, your opinion is taken under advisement. As the legislation states –

    If a certificate under this section relates to a loss or deficiency caused by the wilful misconduct of a person who is, or was at the time of such misconduct, a member of the council concerned..[emphasis added]

    In the examples currently in front of us, we are dealing with groups of councillors who, through their collective wilful misconduct, have potentially cost the electorate well in excess of the £2000 indicated in that legislation.

    They can, individually if necessary, appeal any decision made in these cases.

  • “collective”

    No Pete, the leglislation is clear that it is the individual action that leads to disbarment.

    Nothing to do with a collective, In the example of Fermanagh Unionist councillors their surcharge is almost £40,000 and well over the individual £2,000 bar for exclusion.

    “wilful misconduct of a person” Not group!

    “a member of the council” Not members!

    “the amount certified to be due from him exceeds £2,000″ Not them!

    “that person shall be disqualified for being elected or being a member of a council”

    That person not those persons!

  • Pete Baker

    Chris.. with all appropriate respect.. I am well aware of your interpretation of the legislation I quoted on the original thread. there is no need to repeat it.

    Your distinction between the two groups of councillors, both acting collectively, is also noted.

  • Pete

    I thought this site was about exchanging and tackling people’s views and perceptions.

    I have challenged yours and instead of engaging in debate you act like a teacher who has just been caught out by a student.

    Is there a reason for the hostility and the unwillingness to debate?

  • “with all appropriate respect”

    Which means what exactly? 😉

  • Pete Baker

    I thought this site was about exchanging and tackling people’s views and perceptions.

    I have challenged yours and instead of engaging in debate you act like a teacher who has just been caught out by a student.

    Except, a quick glance back through the thread will reveal that I challenged your interpretation of the legislation.. which you repeated by emphasising the distinction in the legislation between an individual and a group.. which I had pointed out.. and you threw in a mention of “case law” in an attempt to bolster that interpretation.

    As for the accusation of “hostility”.. Really.. The only hostility I have is to those with closed minds, or absolutism in their beliefs.

    Your interpretation could be, and may be, – if it ever materialises – challenged in the courts.. but it’s not one that is likely to be resolved online.