15th August 2018
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Three councillors under investigation over code of conduct complaints

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Three Shetland councillors are being investigated by the Standards Commission after complaints about possible breaches of members’ code of conduct.

Bill Manson is the subject of an investigation relating to an alleged failure to declare an interest at a meeting of Shetland Charitable Trust, which he chairs.

A complaint about councillors Addie Doull and Jim Budge was submitted in March and relates to their involvement in council decisions about Shetland Livestock Marketing Group which they are members of.

A spokeswoman for the commission declined to give any more detail or reveal the identity of the complainers.

There has been a spate of complaints about SIC councillors over the past five years, including one taken out against all 22 members.

Of the nine cases, some against multiple members, just two have been upheld – against convener Sandy Cluness and former convener Tom Stove.

In contrast, Orkney Islands Council and the council in the Western Isles have seen just two complaints each against elected members, all of which failed.

In Shetland, the successful case brought by Michael Peterson against convener Sandy Cluness saw him censured in 2007 for failing to declare the money he was paid as a director of Smyril Line and as chairman of the Shetland Fisheries Training Centre Trust.

Mr Stove was penalised in 2005 for failing to declare an interest in a planning application and was suspended from the council for one month and from the planning committee for six months.

In total, Mr Cluness has suffered four complaints against him to the Standards Commission over the past five years. Gussie Angus has emerged innocent after facing three complaints and councillors Doull, Iris Hawkins and Caroline Miller have seen off two complaints each.

Those who have had one failed complaint against them are Josie Simpson, Alastair Cooper and Florence Grains.

The Standards Commission exists to ensure high ethical standards are adhered to by councillors on Scotland’s 32 local authorities and people who are appointed to positions on 129 other public bodies.

Issues relating to maladministration by council officials are dealt with by a different regulator, the ombudsman.

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