North West Wales

Former Anglesey councillor banned from office

Councillor Phil Fowlie
Image caption Mr Fowlie is disqualified from office for 12 months

Former Anglesey council leader Phil Fowlie has been disqualified from office for 12 months.

The Adjudication Panel for Wales decided on the ban after hearing a complaint from the Wales Audit Office.

The panel said he had brought his office into disrepute by withholding information and misrepresentations.

Mr Fowlie, who stood down as a councillor last month due to poor health, is currently recovering after major heart surgery.

His ban comes as Anglesey council continues to be closely monitored by the assembly government, which placed it in special measures last year.

'Petty bickering'

It followed a damning report by the Auditor General for Wales after an inspection revealed weaknesses in the way the council was run.

In February this year Carl Sergeant, the assembly government's local government minister, told Anglesey councillors progress had been made.

But he said the council should focus on the real needs of the island, and stop "petty bickering".

The complaint against Mr Fowlie was brought by the ombudsman and dealt with by the Adjudication Panel for Wales which considers whether elected members have breached their authority's statutory code of conduct.

The ombudsman complaint centred on the former councillor's comments in an e-mail and a newspaper interview.

In the e-mail and interview Mr Fowlie said he had been advised by the Wales Audit Office not to proceed with Audit Committee meetings.

The hearing heard that at no time did Mr Fowlie "withdraw, correct, amend, or explain the comments that he had made in his e-mail or the quotations attributed to him in the article in the paper".

The ombudsman said that Mr Fowlie had "intentionally misled Coun Chris Everett, and the general public", in both the e-mail and newspaper interview.

"Whilst Anglesey council was experiencing particularly challenging times and although Coun Fowlie was suffering poor health, these factors do not excuse his behaviour," the Ombudsman said.

'Difficult time'

The ombudsman added that he did not accept that it was "a chain of unfortunate misunderstandings", but concluded that Mr Fowlie had "deliberately attempted to mislead as evidenced by his failure to attempt to correct any misrepresentation".

The Ombudsman's concluded that his motivation was political.

Mr Fowlie's explanations were also "erroneous and unsupportable in law", the Ombudsman added.

Mr Fowlie has said that the events had happened during a very difficult time within the council.

There was a general climate of lack of co-operation, in particular between the governing executive and the management team, he added.

He said he could not remember having received training, although he would not dispute records that showed that he had.

The tribunal unanimously decided Mr Fowlie had not complied with the council's Code of Conduct.

It accepted in "its entirety" the ombudsman's conclusions as to the "seriousness of the breaches", and noted that "no apology" has been forthcoming.

"Whilst Coun Fowlie has now stood down as a member of the council, the reason offered is not contrition but his medical condition," it said.

The former Original Independent councillor for Rhosneigr is banned from being or becoming a member of the Isle of Anglesey County Council or of any other relevant authority.

A spokesman for Anglesey council said the authority had nothing to add.

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