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Eden District Councillor Suspended for Six Months
25 January 2010
Eden District Councillor John Lynch was suspended from office for six months on Wednesday (20 January), after he was found to have disclosed confidential information and brought his office and authority into disrepute.
The suspension of Councillor Lynch, who represents the Penrith East ward, began on Wednesday, and followed a Standards for England (SfE) investigation into potential breaches of the Code of Conduct.
The Adjudication Panel for England (APE), now known as the First-tier Tribunal (Local Government Standards in England), also imposed training on the Code and a written apology, and stated that the suspension period would be extended for a further six months if these were not observed.
The Tribunal found that Councillor Lynch breached the parts of the Code relating to the disclosure of confidential information and bringing his office or authority into disrepute, following letters he wrote to a local newspaper on two separate occasions.
Councillor Lynch disclosed information with regard to discussions between Eden District Council and a potential developer in his letters, in spite of the confidential nature of the information. After his initial disclosure, Councillor Lynch told the council’s monitoring officer that he would not repeat his action, before going on to make a further disclosure.
The Tribunal stated that the disqualification of Councillor Lynch had been considered, adding that his behaviour had shown a lack of insight and judgement, and had ‘undermined (the Council’s) credibility as a body able to maintain confidentiality’.
Dr Robert Chilton, Chair of Standards for England, said: “While it is important that members of the public and the media have free and open access to information which directly affects them, there will inevitably be occasions when councillors need to keep information private.
“It is crucial for the successful functioning of any authority that all parts of the Code are observed.“We welcome the decision reached by the First-tier Tribunal and the sanction imposed. We believe this sends out a clear message to members of the public that appropriate action will be taken against members whose ethical standards fall short of expectations.”
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Notes for editors
First-tier Tribunal (Local Government Standards in England) is the name of the body replacing the Adjudication Panel for England and is a separate body to Standards for England.
Standards for England (SfE), through its Ethical Standards Officers (ESOs), investigate potential breaches of the Code of Conduct but do not determine sanctions to be imposed on members who have breached the Code.
At the end of an investigation, SfE can refer the case to the First-tier Tribunal if the potential breach is sufficiently serious to warrant a form of sanction.
First-tier Tribunal is an independent judicial tribunal. The Lord Chancellor appoints its members following consultation with the Secretary of State for Local Government
For further information, please visit www.adjudicationpanel.tribunals.gov.uk