I have today issued the following to all councillors and the press. You won’t be suprised to know that the 7 complainants have still not replied the questions asked of them. No more needs to be said I think:
Statement by Councillor Michael Breslin
On 26 October 2016 the Standards Commission for Scotland issued their written judgement on the complaints made against me by the then 4 most senior officers in Argyll & Bute Council. These officers, Mrs Loudon, Mr Sneddon, Mr Hendry and Mrs Milne made a total of 15 separate complaints against me. These complaints were made in May 2015 while an earlier complaint, again with 15 elements to it, was under investigation. That earlier complaint was made by the 3 most senior councillors in the council, Cllrs Walsh, E Morton and Scoullar.
The earlier complaint was rejected in its entirety by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (CESPLS). CESPLS rejected 9 of the 15 elements to the 2nd complaint and 5 of the remaining 6 were rejected by the Standards Commission. In total, therefore, 1 element of the 2 complaints was upheld out of 30, a success rate of 3%.
In defending myself from what I consider to be vindictive and politically motivated complaints, I have spent some £12k. This has been mitigated by a crowd funder that raised a net £5.5k and huge thanks go to the many people who contributed to this.
The one element that was upheld was, in my view, the most absurd of all 30 and I have carefully considered an appeal against it to the Sheriff Principal. In summary:
- A prominent Edinburgh legal firm had offered to take the appeal for me on a pro bono
- What I was found guilty of was “enabling” an email to be leaked to the press but there was not a shred of evidence to support this.
- The Commissioner for Ethical Standards never asked who I copied the email to, never mind interview them. For this and other reasons, I consider CESPLS to have been negligent.
- Legal aid was not possible for the appeal.
- I asked the Standards Commission for Scotland to waive any claim against me for their legal costs if I lost my appeal. These costs could have run into 5 figures.
- The Standards Commission refused despite my argument that it was in the public interest for my appeal to be heard to establish what standard of evidence was required before a finding could be made against anyone.
The financial risk, therefore, of proceeding with the appeal was too great when measured against the benefits of being cleared of a minor finding against me. I have therefore dropped my appeal.
There are huge questions over this whole affair that require to be answered:
- I have proof that some of the same group of officers who lodged the 2nd complaint helped the 3 councillors with the 1st
- I have proof that it was councillors who gave a free hand to officers to launch the 2nd
- All seven complainants have repeatedly refused to answer questions asked of them. Their actions will have cost the public purse tens of thousands of pounds, exact figures to follow.
- That is why the Scottish Government is being asked to carry out an independent enquiry into these 2 complaints to establish if there was an anti-democratic conspiracy.
This affair has left a stain on our democracy in Scotland.
It is essential the matter is independently investigated and that I am compensated
for the time, strain and costs over the last 25 months.