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Councillors warned over leaks to press

PUBLISHED: 06:22 14 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:17 24 February 2010

THE chief executive of Waveney District Council has warned members that by leaking confidential papers to the media they risk bringing the authority into disrepute.

THE chief executive of Waveney District Council has warned members that by leaking confidential papers to the media they risk bringing the authority into disrepute.

Mairi McLean took the unusual step of making a 15-minute speech to the full council at this week's meeting to set council tax charges.

Confidential papers concerning internal council issues – including employee matters – and budget proposals have been leaked to the press.

Ms McLean told members that she was sorry for having to speak at such length about such "disturbing" matters.

"I do not apologise, however, for it is my duty, for bringing this behaviour to your attention.

"It reflects badly on everyone, and it is important that you all should know that it falls outside the law and your code of conduct," she said.

Ms McLean said the decision to make items confidential is not taken lightly.

"This council is committed to open and transparent business. No-one who truly understands the recent modernising changes of the constitution that we have introduced can sensibly doubt that," said the chief executive.

She went on to say that there were occasions, recognised by the Local Government Act of 1972, when it is not possible to discuss issues in public.

"Human resource issues affecting personal terms and conditions of staff or information of a sensitive commercial nature are but two examples," said Ms McLean.

Although the chief executive said she had no evidence to say what councillor or councillors were making confidential papers public, she understood that this information had "been shared" and there were people aware of who has been leaking the information.

"This is not a situation that I am prepared to contemplate. If any members or officers are involved in passing confidential papers to the press, I would urge them to stop doing it.

"Whatever their motives they need to consider and act upon the overall interests of the council," said Ms McLean.

All three party leaders on the council endorsed what the chief executive had said and supported her action in addressing the full council.

Labour leader of the council Brian Hunter said: "I hope we can now draw a line under this matter."

Conservative leader Peter Austin and Liberal Democrat leader David Young both said they hoped that whoever was leaking confidential matters would stop their actions immediately.


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