Croft­ing chief cleared of charges

The Oban Times - - Front Page -

THE CROFT­ING com­mis­sioner at the cen­tre of a mael­strom of calls for his res­ig­na­tion has been ex­on­er­ated by the Com­mis­sioner for Eth­i­cal Stan­dards in Pub­lic Life.

A com­plaint made against Colin Kennedy by two crofters from Up­per Coll in Lewis was found to be un­founded and there­fore no fur­ther ac­tion was to be taken.

The original com­plaint of 38 is­sues sur­rounds a se­ries of dis­putes among the share­hold­ers in the croft­ing com­mu­nity of Up­per Coll and the con­sid­er­a­tion of these mat­ters by the Croft­ing Com­mis­sion.

The dis­pute came to a head on Novem­ber 11, 2015, when a fact-find­ing meet­ing was held on Lewis. It was al­leged Mr Kennedy had abused his power and should be charged with mis­con­duct.

It was claimed Mr Kennedy failed to pub­lish the rea­son for the meet­ing, that he lost his tem­per dur­ing the meet­ing, and on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions, be­fore ‘shout­ing down’ some of the at­ten­dees.

In his de­fence, Mr Kennedy said that dur­ing the meet­ing, ‘never in his ca­reer had he en­coun­tered such be­hav­iour’ with a ‘ bla­tant’ re­fusal to re­spect the law.

In his find­ings, Stan­dards Com­mis­sioner Bill Thom­son said he was sat­is­fied the meet­ing’s pur­pose was in­di­cated prior to the meet­ing, the at­mos­phere was tense and at time rau­cous, Mr Kennedy’s open­ing state­ments were ro­bust and may have alien­ated the au­di­ence but ‘over­all, the be­hav­iour of the con­vener had not been such as to amount to dis­re­spect of those at­tend­ing the meet­ing’.

In his 28 pages of find­ings, the com­mis­sioner con­cluded by stating: ‘Com­mis­sioner Colin Kennedy has not con­tra­vened the code of con­duct for mem­bers of the Croft­ing Com­mis­sion.’

In a fur­ther de­vel­op­ment, Po­lice Scot­land con­firmed it was ‘at the early stages of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to es­tab­lish crim­i­nal­ity or other­wise’ af­ter it is un­der­stood that pa­pers were seized from crofters op­er­at­ing in the Up­per Coll area.

The spokes­woman con­tin­ued: ‘There are no charges as yet.’

Colin Kennedy.

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