Victory

I was found not guilty on 5 of the 6 alleged breaches of the code yesterday. Rather than repeat things, here is what Cllr Freeman from Helensburgh sent to all councillors followed by my reply. I copied in the 4 complainants and the press.

If there is still anyone wanting to support the crowdfunder, it closes on the 25th. Details of the case summary are here and the crowd funder details are here.

George’s email:

From: Freeman, George
Sent: 20 October 2016 10:15
To: #All Councillors
Subject: Councillor Mike Breslin hails victory in landmark free speech case [NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED]
Importance: High

Classification: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED

http://www.thenational.scot/politics/councillor-mike-breslin-hails-victory-in-landmark-free-speech-case.23795

IMPORTANT

All councillors will be well aware of the complaints that were lodged with the Standards Commission against Cllr Michael Breslin that he has been vigorously fighting for some time now.  This ended up at a final hearing in Edinburgh yesterday.

I have been passed the link above that will take you to a report on the result in The National.  Although full details have not yet been published by the Commission, you will note that 5 of the 6 complaints have been thrown out.  My understanding is that one minor complaint was upheld which has resulted in a rap across the knuckles / warning / censure or however the Commission want to put it.

Anyone who understands this ruling will realise that it has major implications for all councillors and on what we can now say and do and will be welcomed by all fair minded people who believe in free speech.  This will remove a great deal of the fear that councillors operated under up until now.  Whereas many councillors were concerned about speaking out on issues, to a great extent, that fear has now been removed by the clarification that the case against Cllr Breslin has provided for all councillors.  A good day for democracy.

Regards,

George Freeman

My reply:

Thanks George. I am more than happy that you got in before me. I am copying in the 4 complainants so that they know nothing is being said behind their backs.

This, as The National states, is a landmark ruling. The enhanced protection given to an elected politician is founded in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and in subsequent case law. Most of the case law has been well known for years so quite why this complaint was issued by the then 4 most senior officers is a mystery. I would have thought our award winning legal department might have advised extreme caution, but there you go.

Every public body in the UK was given clear guidance by the UK Ministry of Justice in 2006 that it is every public body’s duty to take into account rights under ECHR in their “day-to-day” work. That is the case whatever the public body is doing, even when it is complaining about a councillor. However, you all need to know that the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life, Mr Bill Thomson, also ignored ECHR in my view.

I have written to him today making clear that I consider he ignored ECHR throughout the investigation and in his reports. Worse, when my solicitor sent him a detailed ECHR argument in June this year, Mr Thomson wrote back the same day rejecting the argument without saying why. I have said to Mr Thomson today I consider that he and his staff were negligent in ignoring ECHR and I have said I will be pursuing compensation and an apology.

The press statement attributed to this council in the article in The National is rather mean spirited, focussing on the one breach of the code. As George said, it was minor but it’s also not easily understood so I await the written judgement because I will, most likely, appeal this to the Sheriff Principal.

Mr Thomson considered 15 potential breaches of the code in the complaint that was made. He dismissed 9 of them and found a breach, in his view, in 6 instances. Yesterday only one of these was found to be a breach. That’s a success rate of 1 out of 15 or just under 7%.

I will circulate the written judgement when I get it. ECHR does not mean you can say what you like but it does mean we are all free to ask questions, even hard questions, of officers when the need arises. This is very well expressed in The National’s article.

I made it very clear to the commissioners that while 4 officers put their names to the complaint, it was probably at the behest of Cllr Walsh and perhaps others. I also said it was inconceivable that even if Cllr Walsh wasn’t behind it, it would never have been sent without his approval. I think this is an eminently sound reason for Cllr Walsh to resign forthwith.

Thanks to those of you who supported me in this. I very much appreciate it.

I will be writing separately to the four complainants in due course.

Regards

Author: Michael Breslin

I am no longer a councillor with Argyll & Bute Council but given the appalling treatment I got from the senior officers and a few elected members, I plan to continue keeping an eye on what the council is doing.

14 thoughts on “Victory”

  1. Not only should Councillor Walsh resign his post immediately, but the three officers still on the council payroll should consider their positions. These people attempted to subvert democracy, and inflict their own control over our council. Thanks to your stamina in standing up to them, they have been exposed and councillors throughout the country will be free to question officers without fear of reproach. Well done Michael
    Can I ask that you post your correspondence with these people please? I look forward to their replies!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “you will note that 5 of the 6 complaints have been thrown out. ”

    If Kilmory cant deny the message, at least try to discredit the messenger.You stood up to that and won.

    Well done Michael

    Like

  3. “A good day for democracy” how very true. I now wonder how many councillors will contribute to your crowding account since your experiences during the last 18 months have ensured their democratic rights too. Credit is also due to your family and friends who have continued to support you during this terrible experience. Again, well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Alistair. I suspect there will be a right few unhappy councillors at this result. That’s why I have called for Walsh to go because I am sure he was either behind this or gave them the green light to proceed.

      Like

  4. Congratulations Michael. I salute your courage and determination. This is a message to corporate bullies and those who would use corrupt means to discredit anyone who dares to question them. A true David and Goliath situation with (finally) a just conclusion. Time for change and I hope this decision prompts that change.
    All best to you and yours

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  5. Delighted Michael,not often people make a stand and win as you know to well.I just submitted a FOIR for the costs incurred by the council link as below . Michael Breslin v Complaint by four chief officials of Argyll and Bute Council – a Freedom of Information request to Argyll and Bute Council

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  6. Angus Files

    Request for information: Freedom of Information request – Michael Breslin
    v Complaint by four chief officials of Argyll and Bute Council

    Thank you for your information request which we have logged as reference
    argyllbuteir:6306.

    It has been passed to the relevant service(s) for attention and you should
    receive a response under either the Freedom of Information (Scot) Act 2002
    or the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 by 2016-11-17
    00:00:00.

    Please quote the reference number above in any correspondence you may have
    with the Council in regard to this request.

    Regards

    FOI Officer

    Link to this
    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/michael_breslin_v_complaint_by_f?nocache=incoming-885180#incoming-885180

    Like

  7. Dear MikeGreat news Mike and we’ll done for taking them all on and winning. If we were all scrutinised so closely I am sure we would all merit at least one minor slap so I pay no heed to that. It would be good if you could sue them for your costs but I don’t know how that would go. I hope the crowd funder grows a bit more. I will share on fb.Susan 

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

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    1. is there some way the electorate can demand repayment of all ‘expenses’ claimed by those found guilty?

      They should also apologise, not only to Mike but publicly to all of us!

      What other action can be taken against them / what other consequences ought there to be?

      Well done to you Mike for persevering, standing up to their awful behaviour. It cannot have been easy!
      Alison

      Like

  8. Congratulations-well deserved victory and so glad that someone is actually standing up for what is right! I am not politically minded, but my faith in elected councillors is restored by you and your actions. I have followed your blog with great interest (previously having worked in social care and noting with interest your valid comments and actions regarding what has been happening there). Please keep up the amazing, and honest work you are doing, and thank you for persevering!

    Like

  9. A step toward vindication for sure, not victory but you’re on the way. The actions of these council officers are indefensible, as are those of certain councillors; the election cannot come soon enough and concerted effort must be made to find good candidates to stand against the ‘yes’ men and canvass effectively to get them out.

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