Graham Down: No new action over councillor's homophobic comments

Graham Down Image copyright Twitter/cllrgraham_down
Image caption Graham Down said his fresh outburst had come at "a highly charged, emotional moment"

A councillor who called homosexuality a "sickening and depraved practice" will face no further action.

Graham Down was suspended last summer for breaching Mathern Community Council's code of conduct.

It prompted a fresh outburst that he "would not promote hideous and sickening perversions", prompting the ombudsman to pursue a new case.

But the Adjudication Panel for Wales (APW) rejected it after Mr Down argued there was no new written complaint.

In July 2018 he was suspended from the community council for two months over comments he had made in 2016 while serving on Monmouthshire county council, representing Shirenewton.

The authority's chief executive Paul Matthews had complained about emails in which Councillor Down criticised the authority for flying a rainbow flag at County Hall, saying homosexuality was an "immoral perversion to be condemned, not promoted".

The ombudsman then referred the councillor's comments reacting to his suspension back to the APW as a fresh breach of the code of conduct, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

But Councillor Down argued that those comments were made during a hearing which had concluded, and that there had been no written complaint to justify a new investigation.

"It was made in a highly charged, emotional moment and whilst I do not retract the words used, I regret my conduct and apologise to the Panel for the outburst," he said.

In its latest report, the APW said there was "no dispute of fact that Councillor Down said the words attributed to him" at the July 2018 hearing but rejected the call for further action.

Saying there had been "no written complaint" about the second alleged breach of the code, it pointed out the ombudsman's role was "to investigate complaints from third parties, not to initiate the complaints or the investigation himself".

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