Sunday, 23 March 2014

The objectivity of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Following a recent meeting of Wrexham CBC, I made a complaint against another Councillor from the authority that he/she had breached the Councillors Code of Conduct. I cannot elaborate as the Ombudsman imposes gagging orders on making complaints public. A decision was rapidly made not to investigate my complaint and reasons were laid out, which I accept. However contained within the letter was the following paragraph:
I would however like to take this opportunity to remind you of your obligations under the Code of Conduct, specifically paragraph 6(1)(d) "You must not make vexatious, malicious or frivolous complaints against other members or anyone who works for, or on behalf of, your authority."
So you ask yourself, where did that come from? The answer seems obvious, it came from the Councillor complained of initially in his/her response or an officer acting for him/her.

Frankly, I would argue that my complaint was made in 'good faith' and having chosen to investigate and dismiss the original complaint by me, the Ombudsman then seems to uphold a 'counter complaint' which I have not seen or have commented on,  that I have breached the Code of Conduct for making the complaint in the first place.

This is a perverse way of conducting investigations and will do nothing to encourage Councillors from reporting 'perceived breaches' of the Code of Conduct to the Ombudsman in future.

Unfortunately it seems that I will have no recourse to see the response to the initial complaint as the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to big chunks of the law governing how the Ombudsman operates.

In the interests of fairness and impartiality this is something that legislators need to rectify.

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