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Councillor’s internet access removed
Sunday 30th March, 2014

An independent councillor has had his internet access removed after a cross-party panel found him guilty of using it to view pornographic and offensive material.

Through the council’s IT monitoring process, Councillor Robert Bleakley, independent ward member for Tyldesley was found to have accessed pornographic material on his Wigan Council IT equipment on a regular basis.

Councillor Bleakley failed to attend the standards hearing on Wednesday 26th March and instead appointed Mr Peter Franzen, a former Wigan councillor, to represent him. The panel, which consisted of Chair of the Standards Committee Cllr Charles Rigby, Cllr Jim Ellis and Cllr Jeanette Prescott, decided there was sufficient information to proceed without him.

After hearing the evidence, the cross-party panel unanimously agreed that Cllr Bleakley had broken the council’s IT policy and breached paragraphs five and six (b) (i) of the members' Code of Conduct. As such, Cllr Bleakley’s access to the internet via the council’s provider will now be removed and he will undergo coaching to address his behaviour.

Councillor Terry Halliwell, whose portfolio covers standards issues, said:

“I’m pleased with the panel’s decision; there is no doubt in my mind that Councillor Bleakley’s actions constitute a breach of the code.

“This is the second hearing against Councillor Bleakley this year and just one of many complaints lodged against him because of his behaviour. The first incident, where he fraudulently altered an officer’s email, could have cost two officers their jobs. Prior to this he’s been disqualified and suspended by the Standards Board for England twice and he’s been thrown out of the Liberal Democrat Party.

“Most people would have learnt their lesson by now, but not Councillor Bleakley. Instead he decided to use his council provided computer, given to him to contact his constituents, to view sordid material at the cost of local taxpayers. I hope this latest scandal encourages him to sort out his behaviour once and for all.”

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