Coun­cil­lor wants fees to be waived

The Oban Times - - News -

AN AR­GYLL coun­cil­lor who has spent more than £12,000 in le­gal fees to de­fend com­plaints against him is ask­ing for his fees to be waived as he had not been found guilty on the ma­jor­ity of charges.

But Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil said the coun­cil­lor did breach the code of con­duct and it will be con­sid­er­ing the Stan­dards Com­mis­sion’s find­ings against him.

Coun­cil­lor Michael Bres­lin said: ‘On Oc­to­ber 26, 2016, the Stan­dards Com­mis­sion for Scot­land is­sued its writ­ten judge­ment on the com­plaints made against me by the then four most se­nior of­fi­cers in Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil. In de­fend­ing my­self from what I con­sider to be vin­dic­tive and po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated com­plaints, I have spent some £12,000.

‘This has been mit­i­gated by a crowd­fun­der that raised a net £ 5,500 and huge thanks go to the many peo­ple who con­trib­uted. The one el­e­ment [of the com­plaint] that was up­held was, in my view, the most ab­surd … and I have care­fully con­sid­ered an ap­peal against it to the sher­iff prin­ci­pal.’

Due to the fact that le­gal aid is not avail­able for an ap­peal, Mr Bres­lin con­tin­ued: ‘The fi­nan­cial risk, there­fore, of pro­ceed­ing with the ap­peal was too great when mea­sured against the ben­e­fits of be­ing cleared of a mi­nor find­ing against me. I have there­fore dropped my ap­peal.

‘This af­fair has left a stain on our democ­racy in Scot­land. It is essen­tial the mat­ter is in­de­pen­dently in­ves­ti­gated and that I am com­pen­sated for the time, strain and costs over the past 25 months.’

A spokes­woman for Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil said: ‘The Stan­dards Com­mis­sion sets down a na- tional process that ev­ery­one must fol­low if seek­ing its as­sis­tance in re­solv­ing matters. Any­one with a con­cern is re­quired to sub­mit in­for­ma­tion to the Com­mis­sioner for Eth­i­cal Stan­dards. If the com­mis­sioner be­lieves the code of con­duct has been breached, he takes the case to the Stan­dards Com­mis­sion, which can de­cide to hold a hear­ing, as hap­pened in this case.

‘As re­quired by the com­mis­sion fol­low­ing its find­ing that Coun­cil­lor Bres­lin breached the code of con­duct, the coun­cil will con­sider the writ­ten find­ings in due course.’

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