Standards for England “We believe in principled local politics. Our mission is to champion and promote high standards of conduct amongst our local politicians”.
Roger Matthews did wrong. He accepts he broke the rules. Standards for England agree he broke the rules. Guess what happened next…
The Ethical Standards Officer found that, in respect of his promotion of the proposal to develop land at Greenhill, the member breached the Code of Conduct by bringing his office into disrepute. The member also breached the Code by failing to withdraw from a meeting when two planning applications in which he had a prejudicial interest were considered. The Ethical Standards Officer took all the relevant circumstances into the case before deciding that no further action needed to be taken.
Following his clearance on corruption charges in 2010, the police were less than happy (having spent a lot of time and effort on the case) and probably hoped someone could make something stick. The Standards Committee had not received an official complaint about Cllr Matthews before or during his trial. The Standards Committee do not have the power to initiate enquiries or disciplinary proceedings – they can only act in response to complaints received, and details of the complainant are not published. We don’t know who lodged the complaint about Cllr Matthews with the Standards Committee.
The Standards Committee decided, for whatever reason, that this was too big/difficult/hot to handle and passed it up to Standards for England, their overseeing body. The heroic and highly principled conclusion that Standards for England have arrived at is to do absolutely nothing. Their “reasoning” being that the trial had been expensive, Matthews had withdrawn from his party, and there’s an election soon anyway. CCC’s Standards Committee cannot appeal against this decision.
“Standards for England” – aren’t they breaching the Trades Descriptions Act in some way? Cllr Matthews appears in today’s papers saying “I broke the rules”; Standards for England’s investigation confirm this; no action is taken, no sanction imposed.