Breach of Code of Conduct

January 8th, 2014 by James Goudie KC

In R (Dennehy) v Ealing LBC (2013) EWHC 4102 (Admin) a Councillor’s application for permission to apply for Judicial Review of a decision by a Standards Committee that he had breached the Council’s Code of Conduct failed.  The Committee had found that a post on the Councillor’s blog about Southall residents failed to treat others with respect and brought the Council and the office of Councillor into disrepute.  The Judge concluded that the decision and the sanctions imposed were plainly a proportionate interference with the Councillor’s ECHR Article 10 rights in the light of the other interests identified in the ECHR.  The sanctions were to request an apology and the publication of a neutral notice of the decision on the Council’s website and in the local newspaper.  The Judge noted that the comments about Southall residents were contained in a separate section of the blog from those which raised legitimate topics of political debate. “They were not the expression of a political view, but an unjustified personal and generic attack on a section of the public. The subjects of the speech were not politicians but ordinary members of the public and, as such, the comments did not attract the higher level of protection applicable to political expressions and the comments would plainly have undermined confidence in local government, the preservation of which is a recognised aim of the code”.

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