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.
The complaints against you have been a gross distortion and misrepresentation of you and what you stand for. The accusations have been proven false and highly misleading, reckless, and the defamatory statements made about you by others are meant with the worst of intentions. I`m no lawyer but that’s defamation of character etc. Never mind the total and utter complete waste of everybody’s time. And the Kilmoryoply band plays on….hear the silence.
Excellent post. Even I can understand the implications!
Sent from my iPad
Keep going Michael…. The wind in your sails strengthens…!
What about the pro bono offer? You appear to have a very strong argument encompassing defamation, misuse of public funds, conspiracy, malfeasance and who knows what else.
With a 97% success rate (to date!) I presume you have the support of both the local MP and MSP in your quest for an independent enquiry?
Is there also a likelihood of wider media coverage? There are fundamental principles of undemocratic and tainted governance at issue here which I would’ve thought might be ideal for a leader article in the Herald, Scotsman, etc. Certainly, “Private Eye” is enthusiastic about exposing “Rotten Boroughs”!
A pro bono offer only covers my side of the legal costs and these are normally only made if there is a 50:50 or better chance of winning. I would still need to meet the court costs up front but the real risk is being landed with the other side’s costs if I lost.
Very wise not to go to the Court of Session. Not surprised to hear that the Standards Commissioners will not waive any expenses granted against you. Court of Session is too expensive for 99 per cent of the population of Scotland. Great for publicly funded public “servants” – not for members of the public. Still, to live full lives we have to get access to justice when we need it. Here is a joke to end with: “The Scottish Justice System is the best in the world”.
Not the Court of Session for this. The court is the Sheriff Court, to the Sheriff Principal.
Michael, like most of us who have had a dispute with a Scottish public body you have been priced out of justice. Even if you had won before the Sheriff Principal, and you could have tossed coin on that, the Standards Commissioner would most likely have stepped up the pressure by appealing the Sheriff Principal’s decision to the Court of Session. This is what the individual Scotsman is up against today. It is not an ethical use of our money. And it is not good enough.
Many years ago I was accused by my local planning department of letting a tennant of a small shop I owned to operate out with planning permission, I had no interest in his operation nor knowledge of what was going on. Nevertheless l was charged and duly taken to court along with him (separate trials). I was refused legal aid as I owned property.
My tennant got legal aid, the planning officers attending were being paid (I did overhear them talking implying there was no case for a court hearing as they had declared us guilty.)
Everyone else in the court was being paid for being there. So I was the only one out of pocket.
Fortunately my tennant’s lawyer was top class (much better that I could afford) he demolished the planning departments case against his client, and therefore against me.
I was still faced with my lawyers bill even though she had nothing to do, except to ask that my case be dismissed. As a pensioner it was still a large amount.
Point of this story ? I feel that the justice system is totally unfair when dealing with officialdom or even rich companies wit a bottomless money pit as a defendant you usually finish up with a very large bill.
Following this Councillor Breslin saga with the Argyll and Bute councils officers, I feel that there should be an official enquiry. And Councilor Breslins costs should be reimbursed.
PS I am not a resident of Argyll and Byte and have never met Councillor Breslin but know of him via the Castle Toward debacle.