Complaints against councillors rejected

A list of 15 complaints by former Withiel Parish Council Chairman Richard Thomas against Councillor Patrick Malone and Councillor Janet Shearer under the Code of Conduct have been rejected by the Monitoring Officer for Cornwall Council after investigation.

Mr Thomas sought a review of the rejection of some of his complaints against Councillor Shearer, but his appeal was also rejected, with Mr Thomas being described as “disingenuous” for complaining of actions which he had himself effectively endorsed in writing.

Mr Thomas’s complaints against Councillor Malone included failing to treat others with respect; bullying; attempting to intimidate others; conducting himself contrary to the council’s duty to promote and maintain ethical standards; improperly disclosing confidential information; and bringing his office and/or authority into disrepute.

The majority of complaints against Councillor Malone and Councillor Shearer related to the situation which developed from the running of motorcycles in Cork Woods and in a field owned by a son of Councillor Harper near Ruthern. Mr Thomas complained that in two phone conversations and a series of emails Councillor Malone had lost control, shouted, showed insufficient respect and sought to bully and intimidate.

In his adjudication the Monitoring Officer found no breach of the Code of Conduct on any of the complaints against Councillor Malone. The Monitoring Officer said there was considerable difference between the complainant’s account of the phone conversations and that of Councillor Malone, and the emails did not support the allegations of intemperate behaviour by Councillor Malone as set out by Mr Thomas. He rejected allegations of bullying an intimidation and ruled that no confidential information had been improperly disclosed.

On the motorcycling issue, Mr Thomas complained that Councillor Shearer had failed to treat others with respect, bullied and intimidated others, conducted herself in a manner which is contrary to the council’s duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct, improperly disclosed confidential information, and brought her office or the council into disrepute. After investigation, the Monitoring Officer rejected all the complaints.

Mr Thomas also registered three complaints that Councillor Shearer had brought the council into disrepute and “improperly used her position to confer an advantage or disadvantage” on herself or another. This complaint related to a contract to maintain footpaths, and to the fixing of a kissing gate on behalf of the County Council, and was rejected by the Monitoring Officer after investigation. Mr Thomas sought a review of the decision and this was granted, but after consideration by a second officer it was ruled again that there had been no breach of the Code of Conduct.

The full adjudications can be found on the Cornwall Council website. See:

The relevant numbers are CCN062/13(i), CCN062/13(ii) and CCN063/13.