Councillors in 'misconduct' probe

TWO Ipswich councillors are facing an investigation into alleged misconduct offences.Conservative councillors Gordon Terry and Stephen Barker have been referred to the Standards Board for England and will be investigated at hearings in February.

TWO Ipswich councillors are facing an investigation into alleged misconduct offences.

Conservative councillors Gordon Terry and Stephen Barker have been referred to the Standards Board for England and will be investigated at hearings in February.

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said: "The council has heard from the Standards Board for England. We have been informed that the complaints against two of our councillors, Gordon Terry and Stephen Barker, have been referred to the Adjudication Panel for England.

"It would be inappropriate for this council to comment further prior to the hearing."


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Mr Terry declined to comment on the offences. He said: "This information is strictly confidential.

"The council has breached that confidentiality and I will be considering complaining about that to the Standards Board."

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Mr Barker, leader of the Conservatives on Ipswich Borough Council also declined to comment and said he would be thinking about legal action against the council for disclosing the information.

A spokeswoman for the Standards Board said Mr Terry was being investigated for failing to withdraw from a meeting while items in which he had a prejudicial interest were being discussed.

She said Mr Barker was being investigated for failing to treat other people with respect and compromising the impartiality of authority employees.

The Standards Board for England was formally established in March 2001. It was created by an act of Parliament but operates independently of the Government.

Its main task is to ensure that standards of ethical conduct are maintained across authorities and to deal with complaints of misconduct against individual members.

It works with authorities to help them provide support and guidance to members regarding ethical behaviour.

It also seeks out and promotes good practice so that authorities may learn from their peers.

If the Adjudication Panel finds councillors at fault, the highest sanction it can impose is disqualification from office for up to five years. More often, councillors are suspended for a period of a year.

A spokesman said it was unable to comment on individual cases before they were heard.

Mr Terry and Mr Barker's cases are due to be heard on February 5 and/or 6 2004 at the Novotel in Ipswich. Details of the adjudication panel can be found on www.adjudicationpanel.co.uk.

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