South East Wales

Torfaen councillor suspended over 'rude' emails

Councillor Fred Wildgust
Image caption Councillor Fred Wildgust breached Torfaen council's code of conduct

A councillor has been suspended for 12 months after he was found to have used "rude and disrespectful language" in emails to fellow councillors.

A tribunal was held into the conduct of Fred Wildgust, of Torfaen council.

The Adjudication Panel for Wales found he had failed to comply with the authority's code of conduct.

A council spokesman said it endorsed the "exceptionally thorough" tribunal and its findings and sanctions. Mr Wildgust said he accepted the findings.

The case was referred to the panel by the Public Ombudsman for Wales in July 2010.

The allegations centred on claims Mr Wildgust had breached the council's code of conduct, which states: "You must show respect and consideration for others."

Exempt information

It was concluded he had disclosed confidential or exempt information and sent rude and disrespectful emails to fellow councillors John Cunningham and Neil Mason and used similar language in an email about Doug Jones.

The tribunal also found that his emails about Torfaen chief executive Alison Ward and monitoring officer Lynda Willis and his conduct towards them showed "no respect for them or their office".

The panel also decided his behaviour amounted to bullying and harassment.

Coun Wildgust was also said to have made a statement: "calculated to cause controversy and disruption" and circulated it to the general public and press, "while being reckless as to whether the statements could be substantiated".

He was accused of posting comments about a fellow councillor on a website that incorrectly implied that councillor had been given a position attracting a special responsibility allowance as a means of influencing his vote during council meetings.

The tribunal found there was no evidence that Mr Widgust's conduct compromised or was likely to compromise the impartiality of any officer or any other employee of the authority.

The decision to suspend him was unanimous. The suspension runs from 12 January 2011 for 12 months.

A Torfaen council spokesman said: "The tribunal was exceptionally thorough and the council endorses the findings and sanctions made by the adjudication panel for Wales."

Mr Wildgust said: "I anticipated being suspended and I accept the panel's findings.

"I wanted to enable an independent group to look at the issues I was concerned about and I've achieved that aim."

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