SNP anger at quango which barred leak row councillor

Councillor Paul Delaney is banned from council meetings.
Councillor Paul Delaney is banned from council meetings.

A GOVERNMENT quango was slammed this week after banning a councillor from Motherwell Civic Centre meetings for allegedly leaking information to the Motherwell Times.

An MSP called on the ruling to be set quashed and said he should be given a chance to speak in defence of his SNP colleague.

Councillor Paul Delaney, who represents Mossend and Holytown on North Lanarkshire Council, was reported to the Government-funded Standards Commission for Scotland by council leader Jim McCabe.

It followed an article in the Times about a council planner sacked for corruption.

Councillor Delaney was banned from council meetings for three months afer a three-day hearing last week. He was found guilty of breaching the councillors’ code of conduct by leaking information to the press and making unjustified criticism of a senior council official in a separate Times story.

However, fellow councillor and MSP Richard Lyle described the ruling as ‘flawed’ and said he was ‘shocked’ that the Standards Commission had not asked him to give evidence when other senior figures such as Mr McCabe and council chief executive Gavin Whitefield had testified.

Mr Lyle, a Bellshill councillor and Central Scotland MSP, said: “I am lodging a formal complaint about this judgment and believe it should be set aside so that further evidence can be heard from me.”

The Times story was based on a confidential report relating to the planner’s disciplinary hearing when the sacking was confirmed.

Councillor Delaney, who was the council’s SNP group media officer, was quoted in the article, but denied handing over the confidential report that formed the basis of the report.

During the Standards Commission hearing Times and Speaker deputy editor Mike McQuaid refused to name the source who supplied the report.

Earlier Mr McQuaid was threatened with jail if he failed to comply with an order to hand over his notebook to investigators.

The papers’ lawyer successfully contested that move, but despite Mr McQuaid’s refusal to give a name, the commission decided that Councillor Delaney was the source.

Councillor McCabe welcomed the verdict, saying: “Confidential information shouldn’t ever be leaked and council officers have a right to protection from unwarranted attacks.”

For more see this week’s Motherwell Times and Bellshill Speaker.