To carry out a hearing in relation to an appeal against a Monitoring Officer decision on a councillor complaint.
A report on the complaint will follow.
The Committee received the report, of the Monitoring Officer, on an appeal made by two members of the public about a Monitoring Officer decision on a complaint against Councillor Stephanos Ioannou. (Report no: 127).
1. Jeremy Chambers, Monitoring Officer, advised the Committee as follows:
· He had received a complaint from four members of the public about one of Councillor Ioannou’s Facebook posts.
· He had discussed the complaint with Sarah Jewell (Independent Person) and they had agreed that the complaint warranted further investigation.
· Jayne Middleton-Albooye (Head of Legal Services) had been appointed to investigate the complaint.
2. Jayne Middleton-Albooye briefed the committee on her findings:
· Councillor Stephanos Ioannou had caused offence and breached the councillor code of conduct with his Facebook posting.
· Councillor Ioannou had not challenged the finding and had agreed to undertake race awareness training and to make a private apology.
· Jeremy Chambers as Monitoring Officer had accepted the findings and agreed with the conclusions in the report.
· All the complainants had accepted the findings, but two of them had appealed on the basis that they were not happy with the sanctions agreed. They felt that Councillor Ioannou should be asked to make a public apology on the Facebook page on which the original post had appeared. Councillor Ioannou had refused to do this.
3. Sarah Jewell (Independent Person) advised that she had considered that Councillor Ioannou could be in serious breach of the code, that the complaint warranted investigation and that she was happy with the findings.
4. In normal circumstances the committee would have had the advice of two independent persons on this appeal but unfortunately Christine Chamberlain had been unable to attend due to illness. For this reason, and because Sarah Jewell had only been involved at the very beginning of the complaint, it was agreed that she could advise the committee during their deliberations.
5. Jayne Middleton-Albooye provided the following clarifications in response to questions raised by Committee members:
· Councillor Ioannou had offered to provide a private written apology to the individual complainants but had refused to publish a public apology, on his Facebook page.
· The four complainants were individuals who had indicated that they had spoken to other members of the community, but as far as Jayne Middleton-Albooye was aware were not representative of any specific body or organisation.
At this point in the proceedings Jayne Middleton-Albooye and Councillor Aramaz, who was sitting in the audience, left the meeting.
6. The members of the Committee discussed the information received and after debate agreed to uphold the appeal.
7. Sarah Jewell advised that in her opinion this was a clear-cut breach of the code and that Councillor Ioannou should be asked to make a public apology on social media.
1. Councillor Ioannou should be asked to make an apology, on the same social media forum as the original post, by Monday 31 December 2018 and that it should remain in place until 31 January 2019.
2. The wording of the apology to be agreed with the Monitoring Officer.
3. If Councillor Ioannou failed to make a social media apology, the Monitoring Officer would arrange for an advert, including the findings of the complaint, to be taken out in the next edition of the Enfield Independent.
Jayne Middleton-Albooye and Councillor Tolga Aramaz returned to the meeting.