Wales politics

Neil McEvoy threatened my job, council officer claims

Neil McEvoy

A Cardiff council officer has told a tribunal she was "quite shocked" to feel an AM was threatening her job.

Neil McEvoy is accused of breaching the authority's code of conduct after he attended court to support a council tenant facing eviction in 2015.

Deborah Carter said there was an "angry situation" when Mr McEvoy said: "I can't wait until May 2017 when the restructure of the council happens."

Mr McEvoy, an AM since 2016, claims the complaint is politically motivated.

The assembly member is leader of Cardiff's Plaid Cymru council group and a former deputy leader of the council.

It is alleged he made a comment in a threatening manner after a court hearing at Cardiff civil justice centre in July 2015.

Mr McEvoy had been assisting a council tenant in an application to suspend a warrant of eviction.

'Doing my job'

Finance team manager Ms Carter told the tribunal that the comment was made as they left the hearing, in which the tenant's application had been dismissed.

She said it was "quite an angry situation".

Ms Carter said that as they were leaving, Mr McEvoy was walking ahead of her with the tenant and that he turned and made the comment about council restructuring.

"I believe that he said that to me," she said.

"I was quite shocked to be spoken to like that by what I consider to be my employer.

"I didn't expect to be spoken to by my employer like that when actually I was doing my job."

Image copyright Google Streetview
Image caption The investigation concerns alleged events at Cardiff Civil Justice Centre

Asked by counsel for the Public Services Ombudsman how she interpreted the comments, Ms Carter said: "I took it to mean there might be some threat to the work I do in the council in the future should he get into power.

"I was quite shocked and I did consider that to be a threat to me."

In his evidence, Mr McEvoy denied that his behaviour amounted to bullying or harassment.

He confirmed making a comment about restructuring the council, but said he was referring to Plaid policy to save £1m from cuts to senior managers, not staff at Ms Carter's level.

Mr McEvoy added that he made the comment while talking to the tenant - a constituent of his - in an effort to reassure her about the future.

Asked whether he thought his behaviour brought the role of councillor into disrepute, Mr McEvoy said believed that day he had "enhanced my role as councillor because I stood up for someone who was very vulnerable" in the eviction hearing.

He claimed that the tribunal was "a means of doing politics by complaint".

'Daggers drawn'

Earlier, Mr McEvoy's lawyer, Jonathan Mendus Edwards, asked Ms Carter how Labour councillor Paul Mitchell - who made the complaint to the ombudsman - came to be involved.

Ms Carter said she had not spoken to Mr Mitchell, who Mr Edwards described as being "daggers drawn" with Mr McEvoy.

Mr Edwards suggested to Ms Carter: "You weren't that bothered, but someone else seized the opportunity."

She replied that she was "bothered" about it, although it had not been her idea to complain.

Ms Carter also denied the lawyer's suggestion that a report of the incident was a "sexed-up dossier" and a "fiction".

If the panel rules that Mr McEvoy did breach the council's code of conduct he could face suspension as a councillor for up to a year, or disqualification for up to five years.

Related Topics

More on this story