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Complainant Name:
Mr John Anderson

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Hexham Courant

Complaint:

Mr John Anderson of Kirkwhelpington complained that two articles reporting that he had been found guilty of breaking a councillors’ code of conduct after failing to declare an interest in a discussion at a parish council meeting had not made the full position – that he was only found to have breached the code on a technicality, due to his failure to declare a ‘personal’, and not a ‘vested’ interest – clear. He was particularly concerned that readers would be misled by the publication of the first article, which had presented the findings of the investigating officer and did not represent the final decision of the Standards Committee.

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following clarification:

In our article of August 18 about Kirkwhelpington parish councillor John Anderson we reported that Mr Anderson had been found guilty of breaking a councillors’ code of conduct after failing to declare an interest in a discussion about wind turbines at a parish council meeting. As that article made clear, this contention was based on a report by the investigating officer, which was subsequently presented to the Standards Board for its view. However, the investigating officer’s report did not represent the final decision of the Standards Committee. Its Notice of Decision stated that there had been only a technical breach of the code of conduct, due to the fact that Councillor Anderson had declared a “vested” – as opposed to a “personal” – interest in wind turbines. As our article of August 25 made clear, it was felt by the Standards Board that Mr Anderson had acted with integrity. However, contrary to what was reported, there was no breach of the code caused by the fact the councillor had remained in the meeting. We are happy to clarify the position and regret any misunderstanding.

Report: 74



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