Crofting chief cleared of charges
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.’