Official’s lies led to my council ban

A PUBLIC official who investigated the behaviour of a North Lanarkshire councillor has been accused of committing perjury and misleading a judging panel.

Paul Delaney, who represents Mossend and Holytown, was banned from council meetings for three months after the Standards Commission found him guilty of leaking confidential information to the Motherwell Times and Bellshill Speaker.

A key witness against him was David Sillars, the commission’s senior investigating officer, who probed an alleged breach of the councillors’ code of conduct.

After hearing evidence from Mr Sillars, the commission’s panel found Councillor Delaney guilty of leaking details of the sacking of a council planner for allegedly accepting gifts from a developer.

He was also convicted of breaking the rules concerning public criticism of council officials.

The council’s ruling Labour group susequently banned Councillor Delaney, a Nationalist, indefinitely from three committees on top of the initial punishment.

Councillor Delaney wanted to appeal against the Standards Commission decision, but has been refused permission to do so because he applied too late.

He told Sheriff Principal Brian Lockhart during a hearing at Airdrie Sheriff Court that an appeal was in the public interest.

Councillor Delaney said Mr Sillars ‘may have committed perjury’ during his evidence to the commission’s panel in September.

He claimed Mr Sillars’s job was simply to present evidence, but he had ‘tainted’ this by making clear his view that the councillor was guilty of misconduct.

Councilor Delaney said procedure had not been followed properly during the investigation and hearing, and that Mr Sillars had misled the panel three times regarding evidence obtained. In addition, evidence had been ‘withheld deliberately’.

Councillor Delaney admitted he had lodged his appeal 17 days after the deadline. He said this was because he had suffered injuries in a motorbike crash and was also having to look after his elderly mother who was ill.

However, the Standards Commission argued the appeal should not be heard because it hadn’t been lodged in time. It claimed Councillor Delaney was seeking a fresh hearing just because he didn’t like the original decision.

Sheriff Principal Lockhart rejected Councillor Delaney’s appeal bid, saying: “He had ample opportunity before the date of his unfortunate accident to consider the decision. Even after the accident it was still open to him to instruct an appeal.”

However, Sheriff Principal Lockhart refused a bid to make Councillor Delaney pay the legal costs of the latest hearing.