Wales politics

AM Neil McEvoy's behaviour makes people feel intimidated, hearing told

Neil McEvoy
Image caption Neil McEvoy has been an assembly member for South Wales Central since 2016

A politician has been accused of having a "pattern of behaviour" when he does not get his way that makes people feel intimidated.

A Cardiff Council hearing into claims councillor Neil McEvoy bullied staff at a children's care home went into its third day of evidence on Monday.

Mr McEvoy, who is also an AM, said the allegation showed the public services ombudsman, which investigated his conduct, was "prejudiced" against him.

The hearing continues.

The accusations relate to a phone call Mr McEvoy made to the care home in April 2018 after hearing that a child had alleged they had been assaulted by a member of staff, and an attempt to attend a therapy meeting the following month.

At a meeting of the Cardiff Council standards and ethics sub-committee the politician claimed "false allegations" have been made against him and that witnesses in the hearing were "unreliable".

Mr McEvoy, who is assembly member for South Wales Central and a councillor for Fairwater, said he was acting in the interests of a child and his parents within his remit as a "corporate parent".

The hearing was attended by dozens of members of the public.

At one point the ombudsman's representative was heckled by supporters of Mr McEvoy, prompting the chair of the hearing, James Downe, to call for calm.

Last week the committee heard claims Mr McEvoy had tried to ambush a care meeting about the child - claims he later denied.

The ombudsman suggested that Mr McEvoy had misunderstood the definition of a corporate parent, and in fact the term refers to the local authority and not elected councillors.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The hearing was held at Cardiff City Hall

In May 2018 Mr McEvoy attended a therapy meeting with the father of a child, following allegations the boy had been physically abused.

The committee heard that staff told Mr McEvoy he was not allowed to attend the meeting as he did not have the authority to do so.

Mr McEvoy is accused of then acting in a threatening way towards staff with his "chest puffed out", "shoulders back" and "pointing his fingers".

After being refused access he made a phone call to Cardiff Council's assistant director of children's services within earshot of staff.

A member of staff said the behaviour was "aggressive."

Mr McEvoy denied being aggressive and said he felt threatened by the way a member of care home staff acted towards him.

He told the hearing he felt he was going to be assaulted and was preparing to use a "judo move" to defend himself.

'Following the code of conduct'

Katrin Shaw, representing the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales Nick Bennett, said: "What I'm suggesting is that you have a pattern of behaviour, that as soon as something doesn't go your way, you asked to speak to the director."

"Wow," Mr McEvoy replied, before adding: "What we have here, out of your mouth is prejudice that I'm dealing with.

"You say I have a pattern of behaviour, please show me the pattern of behaviour."

Mr McEvoy said he felt it was "reasonable if you hit a brick wall" to do that.

Ms Shaw suggested he wanted "to make people feel uncomfortable" when he did not get his way.

She added: "Can you see councillor that it is the way you do it that makes people feel intimidated?"

Mr McEvoy replied: "You'll probably accuse me of trying to intimidate you now.

"Now you're telling me by following the code of conduct for councillors by flagging up things going on, you're suggesting that I'm intimidating."

Ms Shaw said: "I'm suggesting you don't follow proper channels."

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