LiveLeader's panel into Mayor Hugh Rayner's conduct

First published in News
Last updated
This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

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Summary

  • Mayor of Barnet Hugh Rayner is under investigation for failure to declare his interests in housing at committee meetings.
  • He is also accused of abusing his position as a councillor for personal benefit.
  • The leader's panel is due to decide whether he breached Barnet Borough Council's code of conduct tonight.
  • It is due to be held in private - something that the Times Series strongly disagrees with.
  • The panel is made up of three Conservatives and two Labour members, including leader Richard Cornelius, who has previously come out in support of his Tory colleague.
  • Tweet us using the hashtag #RaynerPanel

7:45pm

Some of the decisions were unanimous, some were not.
 

7:44pm

The panel found that Mayor Hugh Rayner did NOT breach the code of conduct for the various allegations against him.

7:39pm

The panel have returned after spending two hours deliberating.

7:30pm

And they've been deliberating for 1 hour and 45 minutes. That's nearly two hours.

7:26pm

They are still legally allowed to meet, according to the constitution, but if it's tied the casting vote goes to the chairman

7:26pm

There's meant to be three Conservatives on the panel, looks like Cllr Marshall had excluded himself

7:25pm

Conservative Councillor John Marshall, who is supposed to be deliberating, is actually sat in the Finchley Area Planning Forum...

7:08pm

7:07pm

6:56pm

And one hour and 15 minutes later, we are still waiting...
 

6:54pm

It's nearly 7pm and there's no sign of the panel. Apparently, they've been told to have their decision by 7pm.

6:33pm

It's been almost an hour and we're still waiting for the panel to return with their decision.

5:45pm

The panel have now gone to deliberate.

5:40pm

Tanya Ossack, Independent member: "I am intensely confused in the different code of conducts.

"I don't understand why someone who has an interest in something at a meeting, wouldn't say so.

"If it breaches the code, that's the end to it.

"The code has a moral aspect too.

"But at the end of the day, if someone wanted to look at it, it's all there."

5:39pm

But she says the evidence relating to the other matters are a "bit shaky".
 

5:38pm

"You just need to be a bit more careful", she said. "That blurring raises a question mark. You need to exercise a bit more caution."

5:38pm

She said: "There's obviously an issue on behalf of a councillor, acting on behalf of members of his consistuency, having problems with him.

"There's a blurring between acting as a councillor and acting as a landlord.

"That seems to be, on the face of it, a blurring. I don't know if it's much more of that".

5:37pm

The panel's independent member, Tanya Ossack, says her view is that someone whose living seems to be from renting out property in the private rented sector, has a great interest in how it blossoms.

"Any discussions by the council affects his personal livelihood. There have been full declarations in the register of interests, so anyone who wants to know, could find them quite easily.

"But that's not what this is about. It's not about how it looks from the inside out."

5:35pm

Cllr Rayner has asked the panel to read all the evidence carefully before coming to their final conclusions.

5:27pm

Cllr Moore: "It concerns me that even a general declaration wasn't made at these meetings. It feels to me, that applying the test of what the public would think, a declaration of some sort would have been appropriate."

However, Cllr Cornelius has pointed out Cllr Rayner made full written representations about his interests.

5:18pm

Cllr Moore is giving examples of when councillors have declared interests at meetings in the past.

5:17pm

Cllr Cornelius has likened this to being "like a member of an AA contributing to a debate about a motoring matter"...

5:17pm

According to Cllr Bary Rawlings, the test should be whether a 'reasonable person' thinks Cllr Rayner should have declared his interests.

5:15pm

The panel is now debating whether Cllr Rayner should have declared his interests in housing when voting on the Business and Management Committee.

 

5:12pm

5:09pm

Here is what Cllr Cornelius told the Times Series about the case back in June: "I don’t know, it doesn’t sound illegal. I don’t know the details of it so I can’t make a judgement.

“If it’s something that’s illegal it’s something that shouldn’t be done. It depends on what you mean by illegal?

“Leases should be in line with a statute. If it wasn’t, it would be a civil matter.”

For more, see http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/11280338.Council_leader_defends_Barnet_Mayor_s__illegal__behaviour/

5:08pm

Cllr Moore has admitted she is 'uncomfortable' allowing Cllr Cornelius to chair the meeting.

5:07pm

Cllr Moore: "I'd like you to consider how it might look to the public, considering you have commented on it before".

5:07pm

Cllr Cornelius says he would like to continue chairing the meeting. He has previously come out in support of his Tory colleague.

He says he was 'very careful' in what he told the Times Series a few months ago.

However, Cllr Alison Moore, Labour leader, disagrees. She says they were 'dismissive' of the case.

5:05pm

The meeting will be held in public. Cllr Cornelius says there's 'no reason' to hold it in private and Cllr Rayner agrees.

5:04pm

The panel will hear three complaints about one councillor, which we understand to be Cllr Rayner.

5:02pm

The meeting has begun. There was a slight giggle from the public gallery as chairman Richard Cornelius asked if anyone has any disclosable interests.

4:57pm

The press and public could be barred from tonight's meeting - but yesterday, the Times Series wrote the below letter, urging the authority to hold it in public.

We believe excluding the press and public would clearly lead to allegations of a cover up and that the council’s priority should be to ensure members of the public believe justice has been done.

If the meeting is held behind closed doors, we have asked the authority to explain to our readers why it believes the taxpayers deserve to be kept in the dark.

So far, we have not had a reply.

This Is Local London:

4:53pm


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