Standards (Assessment) Sub Committee
Reference Number: KCC/1/2012
Date: 7 March 2012
Details of the complaint:
Mr T Flaig (the complainant), raised concerns about the alleged conduct of Mr C Wells, an elected Member of Kent County Council. A general summary of the complaint is as follows:
It is alleged that the conduct of Mr Wells has fallen below acceptable standards in that he has used an abusive and disrespectful term, “lickspittle” to describe the complainant on the complainant’s blog. Initially, the complainant contacted the Head of Democratic Services, who spoke to Mr Wells, who then made a formal, public apology to the complainant on the same blog site. However, the complainant has refused to accept the apology on the basis that it is not an unreserved apology and a retraction of the disrespectful term and, instead, he has asked for his complaint to come to the Standards Committee for assessment
The Standards (Assessment) Sub Committee was of the view that the complaint related to Paragraph 3(1) of the Code of Conduct: “You must treat others with respect”.
In accordance with Section 57A(2) of the Local Government Act 2000 (as amended), the Assessment Sub Committee of the Standards Committee has decided to refer the complaint to the Monitoring Officer for action; namely that Mr Wells be asked to make an unreserved apology to the complainant for his use of the term “lickspittle”, which the Sub Committee thought was disrespectful to the complainant and that if Mr Wells was not inclined to offer an unreserved apology in a form acceptable to the Monitoring Officer, the matter be brought back to the Assessment Sub Committee.
Reasons for decision:
The Assessment Sub Committee’s reasons for its decision were as follows:
- The evidence for the actions of Mr Wells is not in dispute and it was unlikely that anything further would be gained by asking the Monitoring Officer to expend public monies carrying out a formal investigation into the complaint.
- Nevertheless, the term “lickspittle” was disrespectful to the complainant and it was appropriate for Mr Wells to offer an unreserved apology to the complainant for his use of the term