A departed Central Beds councillor has been censured by its standards sub-committee for breaches of “integrity”, “accountability” and “honesty” after spreading a rumour, it has been revealed.
Richard Stay, who represented Caddington ward on the council until stepping down in last week’s election, was the subject of a complaint made by Slip End resident Steve Walker in January 2018.
Mr Walker is understood to have become acquainted with Cllr Stay, who offered to help in a long-running local dispute. After feeling that Cllr Stay was not acting in his best interests, Mr Walker decided to record two of their conversations – one in 2015 and another in 2018.
In one of the recorded conversations, Cllr Stay is reported to have made a derogatory remark about a third party – understood to be a charity – “which he either did not believe, or if he did believe, should have reported them to the police”.
Mr Walker also complained to the council that Cllr Stay had shared details of confidential discussions and “manipulated the situation for his own vendetta”, as well as trying to interfere with witnesses in a criminal case, and sending a letter denying comments that he had made.
Although CBC’s monitoring officer and independent person initially decided on no further action, a formal investigation was launched after Mr Walker supplied evidence of the two recordings.
The standards sub-committee met on April 4 to consider the case, with Cllr Stay neither present nor represented, and its findings were published on April 29.
The committee stated: “In spreading of a rumour about a third party organisation, it was clearly disadvantaging those people.
“The subject member [Cllr Richard Stay] failed to report a rumour about a safeguarding issue through the appropriate channels, if at all, which was not in the public interest.
“The spreading of the rumour did not meet the expected level of behaviour of a member, the comments clearly showed a lack of respect and courtesy to the organisation and the individuals running it. The information divulged ... was confidential and should not have been disclosed to the complainant.”
The panel also found evidence that Cllr Stay had been dishonest in denying he had made the comments.
They stated: “The comments were made clearly in the audio recordings, yet denied in writing by the subject member.”
As a sanction, the sub-committee decided to censure Cllr Stay and publish its findings.