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Letter: Why Couldn’t Complainants Attend the Cllr Reeve Complaints Hearing?

Published on: 23 Sep, 2017
Updated on: 23 Sep, 2017

From Adam Aaronson

Mr Ritchings (Letter: David Reeves’ Accusers Should Have Attended Complaints Hearing) may be interested to learn that Mr Spooner has been rather more forthcoming on Twitter. For those unfamiliar wIth Twitter, it may be helpful to know that @PaulKGB is Councillor Spooner’s twitter “handle” or name.

On September 11 2017 at 5.44 @PaulKGB  tweeted: “Unfortunately the GBC hearing procedures did not allow for Complainants to participate in any way at the hearing”.

This was in response to my tweet, which said: “Cllrs Spooner and Reeves fail to attend GBC hearing of their complaints against Cllr Reeve, in a possible breach of his human rights! Shame!”

The next day in response to another of my tweets in reply to Cllr Reeves where I said: “But anyway, according to @PaulKGB you weren’t allowed to attend, though he can’t seem to point me to where on the GBC website it says this.”

Mr Spooner replied:  “I did not say that. I said that we could not participate!”

I responded to this saying: “ Actually, attendance is participation. But where does it say on the GBC website that you cannot participate?”

Mr Spooner did not reply:

A collection of the relevant Tweets.

A few days later, on 16th Sept, Mr Spooner, in another tweet, repeated his statement that he and Cllr Reeves were not allowed to participate:

Replying to @gheathtaylor @GuildfordBC, @PaulKGB tweeted: “Both @CllrReeves & I were not allowed to participate. I am equally unimpressed that I was not able to correct misinformation at hearing.”

I find Mr Spooner’s statements puzzling. His standpoint seems to be in direct contradiction to the council’s constitution.

The written agenda given to those who attended the Complaints hearing on September 11 at GBC Council Offices, Millmead.

The agenda provided to the public at the hearing, which I attended, clearly set out that the chairman would introduce the various parties, including the complainants. Following Mr Whiteman’s comments about correct procedure being followed, I read the council’s constitution, which clearly provides under Part 5 – Codes and Protocols for the complainants to be present.

“7.6 Introduction by the Chairman, of Members of the Hearings Sub-Committee, the Independent Person, the Parish Member (if the complaint involves a parish councillor), the Monitoring Officer or Legal Advisor to the Sub-Committee, Investigating Officer, Complainant(s) and the Subject Member and their representative (if appointed).”

Furthermore, Part 5 the Constitution also states:

“Presentation of the Complaint

8. The Investigating Officer presents their report including any documentary evidence or other material and calls any complainant witnesses.

9. The Hearings Sub-Committee will give the Subject Member the opportunity to ask any questions regarding the evidence presented through the Chairman.

10. The Hearings Sub-Committee may question the Investigating Officer upon the content of his or her report and any complainant witnesses.”

So the way in which the constitution has been written is quite clear. There is an inherent expectation that the complainant(s) would attend the hearing and that the Investigating Officer would normally call the complainants as witnesses. For Mr Spooner to say that the complainants could not participate in the process is misinformed and inaccurate.

Just after 10am when the hearing opened, it was announced to shocked public cries of Shame! that the complainants would not be attending.

It turns out that Councillor Reeve had only been notified at 9.30am that Cllr Spooner would not be attending and only a few days previously that Cllr Reeves would be absent.

Yet, it was clear from the statement that Cllr Reeve made regarding Article 6 of the Human Rights Act that in conversations with the deputy monitoring officer on Friday, September 8, just three days before the hearing, he was given to understand that Cllr Spooner would be attending. In that statement, it also emerged that GBC officers had needed to seek counsel’s opinion as to whether Cllr Reeve had the right to cross-examine the complainants.

I believe that it is in the public interest for the counsel’s opinion to be published.

Some time between Friday 8th and Monday 11th September a decision was made for Cllr Spooner not to attend the hearing. The question is who made the decision and why?

Cllr Paul Spooner has responded: “I did not plan to respond publically until the minutes of the meeting and report for full council have been published as I was hoping that these documents would clarify issues being raised by Cllr Reeve’s supporters in relation to the process from original complaints raised in relation to process and the resultant hearing.

However, I am happy to clarify the question of appearance at the hearing.

I had expected that I would be able to participate at the hearing but I found out on Friday 8th September that as the investigating officer was not calling me as a complainant witness I would not be able to actively participate at all at the hearing.

I was also informed by the deputy monitoring officer that QC advice had been sought following communication with Cllr Reeve that he wished to cross examine complainants. I indicated that I thought that both complainants should be present if QC advice supported Cllr Reeves and given Cllr Reeves had indicated in advance that she would be on vacation then I would seek adjournment to enable both complainants to be available to Cllr Reeve.

Subsequently, later Friday afternoon, I heard that the QC advice was supportive of the Council legal position and I would not be able to actively participate. I therefore took the decision that to avoid any possibility of being accused of trying to influence the hearing panel I would watch the webcast away from Millmead, and that is what I did. I have not seen the QC advice that was relied upon by the deputy monitoring officer.

It was disappointing not to be able to counter some of the comments made by Cllr Reeve in his attempt to damage my reputation when he knew that there was no opportunity to correct what he said at the hearing.



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Responses to Letter: Why Couldn’t Complainants Attend the Cllr Reeve Complaints Hearing?

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    September 23, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    The complaints procedure is shot through with holes locally and nationally.

    Not once in 50 plus years has an ombudsman, public enquiry, or complaints procedure actually worked. As soon as a complaint is received closing ranks and cover up is standard practice.

    What Cllr Spooner, with his ‘KGB’ Twitter handle, thought to gain by this exercise is beyond me. He stood to gain nothing. As it is, it has worked against him and he has lost, further, his standing in the community.

  2. Neville Bryan Reply

    September 23, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    This hearing took 14 months to arrange. It beggars belief that the date arrangement could permit either, let alone both complainants not to attend. The fact that Cllr Reeve was not able to cross-examine his accusers defies every element of justice in this country.

    Is our political system now so badly off course, that laws of right and wrong are no longer important, and we accept politicians who are not accountable to the electorate?

  3. Valerie Thompson Reply

    September 24, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Why did GBC’s deputy monitoring officer know so little about the law and procedure that she needed, at further public expense, to get advice from a QC?

    Why didn’t the investigating officer call the complainants as witnesses?

    Why was David Reeve not informed that the complainants would not be attending until the actual morning of the hearing?

    Why did the solicitor know so little about GGG that she referred to them merely as a pressure group rather than a political party? How dare she dismiss the constant complaints and letters regarding the SHMA and state that housing numbers are not of public interest.

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