Fringe Box



Complaints Against Cllrs Spooner and Eyre Upheld At Hearing

Published on: 28 Sep, 2022
Updated on: 27 May, 2023

By Hugh Coakley

Two Guildford Borough Councillors were found to have breached the Councillors’ Code of Conduct at a formal hearing last night (September 27).

A sub-committee of the Corporate Governance and Standards Committee concluded that Paul Spooner and Graham Eyre, both Conservative ward councillors for South Ash & Tongham, had failed to act with respect. Cllr Spooner had told Guildford Dragon reporter David Reading in an email to “get stuffed” and referred to Martin Giles as “your pea-brained editor” while Cllr Eyre called him a “grubby little boss”.

Publication of the full finding was considered to be part of their punishment and letters advising the councillors about their conduct will be sent.

Cllr Graham Eyre

Cllr Eyre will also be required to apologise to The Dragon editor.

Cllr Spooner, who is leader of the Conservative group at GBC, told the sub-committee before they retired to consider the sanctions to be imposed that he would refuse to apologise. He will also be sent a letter of censure.

Cllr Paul Spooner

He disagreed with the independent investigator’s finding that he had breached the code claiming he had been acting in a personal capacity, not as a councillor, when he had made the remarks.

He admitted he had lost his temper because the Dragon editor had sought corroboration and clarification with another member of the Conservative group in respect of answers Cllr Spooner had provided to a set of questions asked by Mr Reading.

Cllr Eyre was not present at the hearing, having told the committee he did not intend to attend.

Martin Giles commented after the hearing: “I am glad that the sub-committee agreed that Cllrs Spooner and Eyre had breached the code but this was a matter that should never have taken 16 months and nearly £4,500 of taxpayers’ money to resolve.

“The council should once again review the complaints process and, if it is within their power, improve it to reach speedier outcomes.

Dragon editor Martin Giles

“It is, of course, important that councillors maintain standards and it is a great shame that these councillors couldn’t find it within themselves to willingly apologise at an early stage. But a forced apology now, even if it does come, would be worthless, so I am content to accept the sub-committee’s decision.

“And there are far more important standards for councillors to consider, especially the Nolan principles. From a journalist’s point of view, it is important there is accountability –  being prepared to answer questions all the time, not just when it suits them.”

The monitoring officer at GBC told The Dragon that the council’s “current spend on the independent investigation is £3,448.42. Our current estimated cost of officer time is almost £1,000.”

The sub-committee comprised five councillors: George Potter (chair, Lib Dem), Tony Rooth (R4GV), Jo Randall (Con), Jon Askew (Lib Dem) and Deborah Seabrook (R4GV).

See also: Dragon Editor’s Complaint Against Two Councillors To Be Heard After 16 Month Investigation

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Responses to Complaints Against Cllrs Spooner and Eyre Upheld At Hearing

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    September 28, 2022 at 6:17 am

    This is not the only time Cllr Spooner has faced a complaint. He should now do the decent thing and get out of politics for good, by resigning.

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    September 28, 2022 at 8:16 am

    Mr Putin, as a former low-grade KGB officer, knew how to consolidate his power. First job: nobble the press.

    The so-called Conservatives from Ash have been trying to emulate Mr Putin by defaming a valuable local newspaper.

  3. Martin Elliott Reply

    September 28, 2022 at 7:33 pm

    Will the apologies be published in full?

    Oh that’s right, GBC Councillors, from any party, rarely apologise when instructed to, let alone make suitable and sufficient apologies.

    Editor’s comment: Cllr Spooner made it clear he would not apologise and was censured. Cllr Eyre has previously said he would not apologise but has been directed to do so. What might happen if he now refuses is not known.

  4. David Roberts Reply

    October 1, 2022 at 7:12 pm

    When will Guildford Tories realise that Cllr Spooner is a baleful influence on the party and a drag on their electoral prospects in next May’s borough elections?

    His reputation is already damaged beyond repair by his use of the council’s public complaints procedure to pick on GGG councillor David Reeve in 2017, his hob-nobbing with property developers, his bizarre “partnering” trip to Dongying in China the same year, his parenthood of the disastrous Local Plan and the collapse of the Tory vote in the 2019 local elections.

    This is a dismal record. A complete clear-out of the pre-2019 Tory old guard is required to re-establish the Conservatives’ local credibility as a decent political force. I am at a loss to know what keeps these unpopular non-entities clinging to their councillors’ allowances.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      October 4, 2022 at 4:53 pm

      Why on earth do the electors of Ash vote for these people?

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