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MO states he will not deal with criminal allegations during the pandemic

0 votes

Hi

The MO has informed me that my local authority has ‘effectively suspended’ all complaint investigations during the pandemic, and therefore he will not be investigating criminal allegations relating to 3 parish councillors failures to register any DPIs until ‘a gradual return to business as usual dependent upon a recovery plan guided by national policy.’

That said, the LGSO’s advice on 16/04/2020 states they still expect councils to respond appropriately to any complaints they receive during the pandemic.

Does the MO have the authority to silence the Code of Conduct complaints process, and moreover, the requirements of Sections 28(6) & (7) of the Localism Act 2011?

Any advice would be most appreciated.

Thank you

Sam

asked by (1.5k points)

3 Answers

0 votes
In theory you could as the Police force that serves the parish to investigate, as any breach of legislation that amounts to criminal activity should come under their remit. They have probably never had to do that and might not know where to start!
answered by (10.6k points)
Many thanks for your reply.

However, the MO had passed my complaints to the police some 11 weeks and I never received any update during that time from him and is also contrary to the requirements of the protocol established by the principal authority and police regarding section 34 offences.

Due to the lack of response, I then requested the MO to investigate the parish councillors by virtue of sections 28(6) & (7) and also asked him why the Statutory Register of Interests still does not reflect their DPIs.

As stated within my question, the MO responded and confirmed that he would not be investigating the complaints during the pandemic.

Consequently, I am unable to establish what authority the MO has to suspend the requirements of the 2011 Act especially in view of the serious nature of my concerns.
0 votes
I'm not sure how your Monitoring Officer deals with alleged criminal breaches, however, I know in our area, all complaints have to go to the MO first, they then decide if there is sufficient evidence to pass to the Police, and then they will be guided by the principle authority.  This is not a cop-out, it is because the standards required by a criminal court are much higher than as if it were a civil matter

I know that if a complaint is made directly to the Police, they refer the complaint back to the MO before they will even look at anything, especially as already said the standards required by a criminal court are much higher than as if it were a civil matter.

Another consideration is who foots the legal costs, I believe the MO will ultimately pass these back to the Parish, so it may mean that you, as an individual, may have to explain to the electorate why they have suddenly been hit with a legal bill for several thousands of pounds, that even didn't get into court!  A bill that would possibly fail the public interest test in the first place.
answered by (930 points)
+1 vote
If you don't feel the MO is acting properly then I would submit a complaint to them outlining your issues. In closing explain that unless they give satisfactory reasons for their actions you will escalate it to the head of the council.

I see absolutely no reason whatsoever why Covid19 would stop them from undertaking their role. I appreciate it may cause a delay but not a stop.
answered by (1k points)
Many thanks for your advice. I believe it would be fruitless to submit any complaint to the head of the council as he was the previous solicitor to the council and MO. However, I will attempt to report these matters concerning the MO to the LGSO once they have resumed work.
Yes, that's a good option if they fail to take matters seriously.

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