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  Wigan Magistrates Court
Councillor found guilty of intimidating employee
Tuesday 7th October, 2014

Councillor Robert Brierley, independent ward member for Hindley Green, has been found guilty of breaching Wigan Council’s Code of Conduct for intimidating a council employee outside of work.

This is the second of six hearings scheduled to take place each week until early-November against Cllr Brierley, who failed to attend today’s (Tuesday 7th October) hearing.

The panel decided there was sufficient information to proceed without him. The meeting was held in private to protect the identity of those giving evidence, namely the employee involved and other individuals referred to in the report.* The panel agreed that by closing the meeting other staff members and members of the public wouldn’t be deterred from coming forward with complaints in the future.

The complainant, Alison McKenzie-Folan, director for customer transformation at Wigan Council, submitted the complaint against Cllr Brierley on behalf of a member of staff.

The staff member (who cannot be named for legal reasons) submitted the complaint against Cllr Brierley after he approached her and her daughter outside of work.

“I was walking the dog with my daughter when Cllr Brierley pulled up in his car. He saw me enter the field and he was still there waiting for me when I returned. He pulled up alongside my car and started shouting abuse at me. I remember him saying that as soon as Labour was out he’d be my boss and I’d have to work for him. My daughter was really upset and shaken afterwards and couldn’t understand why he’d been so horrible – I had to explain that not all councillors are like that.

“In my role I work quite closely with councillors, the majority of whom are a pleasure to work with. Unfortunately this incident has made it very difficult for me to work with Cllr Brierley, he’s never apologised for the incident and ignores me.”

Alison McKenzie-Folan said:

“The council's senior management team has sent out a clear message that we will not tolerate unacceptable behaviour towards our staff and are pleased that the outcome of the hearing supports this.”

In his absence, the panel found Cllr Brierley guilty of breaching paragraph 3 (1) (b) and paragraph 5. The decision on sanctions will be deferred until the final hearing next month.

Councillor Brierley was found to have breached the same provisions of the Code of Conduct at a hearing only last week in connection with an incident at the Pelican Centre in Tyldesley where he intimidated a volunteer.

The coalition government abolished the Standards Board for England as part of the Localism Bill in 2012. As a result local authorities no longer have the power to suspend or disqualify councillors who bully, are rude, or disclose confidential information.

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