Two councillors cleared of Code of Conduct charge

Petition with 4,303 signatures handed over to SBC's depute convener Jim Brown by campaigner Brian McCrow.
Petition with 4,303 signatures handed over to SBC's depute convener Jim Brown by campaigner Brian McCrow.

Two Scottish Borders councillors have been cleared of breaching the Councillors’ Code of Conduct.

Leader of Scottish Borders Council, Councillor David Parker and Councillor Alec Nicol, chairman of SBC’s Petitions and Deputations Committee, were cleared by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland after a formal complaint was raised against them by Innerleithen Community Council member Brian McCrow.

The complaint alleged that Councillor Parker had breached the Code of Conduct by not declaring an interest and not treating Mr McCrow with respect at a meeting of the council’s Petitions and Deputations Committee on October 1, 2015, when the 4,400 signature petition asking the council to overturn its decision about the £3.5 million Tweedbank centre for the Great Tapestry of Scotland was discussed.

Mr McCrow also alleged that Councillor Nicol had failed to declare an interest.

Both councillors denied any wrongdoing and co-operated fully in the complaints process.

Following a review of the allegations, the Commissioner concluded that “In all circumstances the matters raised did not amount to a breach of the Code of Conduct.”

The complaint did not move forward to the formal investigation stage, with the Commissioner deciding the evidence was not available to support the allegations.

Councillor Parker said: “I am pleased that following a review of these allegations, the Commissioner is not investigating them any further, having concluded that there was no breach of the Code of Conduct.

“I take the councillors’ Code of Conduct very seriously and behaved entirely appropriately when considering the petition lodged by Mr McCrow.

“The petition was carefully considered and all those involved were treated with courtesy and respect and I am pleased that this matter is closed with the very clear conclusion that I had no case to answer.”

Councillor Nicol added: “As chairman of the Petitions and Deputations Committee, I work very hard to ensure that everyone involved is treated fairly and with respect.

“I am delighted that the commissioner has found no substance to these allegations and concluded that I behaved entirely appropriately in my role as chairman.”