|Councillor reprimanded for making false allegations about hotel business
A councillor who made unsubstantiated allegations on Facebook about a hotel chain has been reprimanded for breaching the councillors’ code of conduct.
Councillor Bob Brierley, independent councillor for Hindley Green, posted the comments on Facebook about Contessa Hotels.
Cllr Brierley made further unsubstantiated allegations about the company during a protest outside Haigh Hall.
Wigan Council’s standards committee found that Cllr Brierley had committed three breaches of the councillors’ code of conduct.
The committee concluded the statements could be construed as libellous.
It is the ninth case in the past four years where Cllr Brierley has been found guilty of breaching the code.
Contessa Hotels, which has two luxury hotels in Merseyside, took over the development of Haigh Hall in 2014.
Linda Comstive, an independent investigator, told the hearing that Cllr Brierley had posted on a public Facebook page allegations regarding Contessa Hotels that were “totally untrue”.
She said Cllr Brierley had been given six months to provide any evidence to back up the allegations but he had failed to do so.
The hearing heard that on April 22nd during a protest at Haigh Hall, Cllr Brierley made further serious allegations about Wigan Council and Contessa Hotels.
Cllr Brierley had again been given six months to provide evidence to prove the allegations but he had not responded.
Craig Baker, the director of Contessa Hotels, told the hearing the lies peddled by Cllr Brierley had a negative impact on his business and said the situation had affected how he felt about his involvement with Haigh Hall.
Cllr Brierley, who failed to attend the hearing, was found to have breached three sections of the code of conduct which governs the behaviour of elected members.
He was found to have breached the paragraphs stating members should not bully or be abusive, that they should not bring their office into disrepute and they should not use their position improperly to confer an advantage or disadvantage on someone.
The committee imposed sanctions on Cllr Brierley by suspending his use of IT equipment and suspending his presence on any council committee, both until May 2020.
Councillor Charles Rigby, chairman of the standards committee, said: “The committee found that these were serious breaches of the members’ code of conduct.
“It is completely unacceptable for a council member to make such false allegations with no evidence whatsoever to support them.
“Mr Baker and has business have suffered as a result and we hope the ruling of the committee show that the council has taken his complaint very seriously.”