Banned Mostyn councillor claims human rights breached

Published date: 29 July 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A FORMER Flintshire councillor is challenging the UK government for breaching his human rights.

Patrick Heesom, the former member for Mostyn, will ask the European Court of Human Rights to overturn his ban from office.

Mr Heesom was disqualified from holding public office for two-and-a-half years (lessened on appeal to 18 months) after being found guilty of bullying behaviour against senior council officers.

Mr Heesom’s barristers, who previously said the councillor did nothing more than argue forcefully on behalf of his constituents, are now preparing to submit an appeal his solicitor says “goes to the heart of the most important issues in democracy - the rights of elected representatives to speak freely and speak freely”.

In July last year, the Adjudication Panel for Wales found Mr Heesom guilty of 14 breaches of the code of conduct over a two-year period, involving nine different sets of circumstances. Evidence he bullied Susan Lewis, the local authority’s former director of community services, was accepted by the panel.

A High Court appeal quashed three of those breaches and reduced Mr Heesom’s ban by 12 months.

But the judgment handed down by Mr Justice Hinkinbottom at the Royal Courts of Justice did not overturn the disqualification and this week a by-election will be held to fill the vacant seat in Mostyn.

Mr Heesom’s solicitor Kieran O’Rourke said the fundamental point in the case was Mr Heesom’s right of free speech and the ability of the High Court, the Adjudication Panel of Wales and the Ombudsman to remove a democratically-elected representative from his electorate based on a dispute between individuals of the council.

In England, councillors cannot be similarly removed for what are non-criminal matters, Mr O’Rourke said.

He said in the High Court appeal, the judge could not look at matters the Adjudication Panel had raised as fact – only on points of law.

“The High Court could not look at the political aspects,” he said.

“The European Court will look at everything because it’s not tied to observing the constitutional niceties of the UK.”

Mr O’Rourke said not only Mr Heesom’s rights would be considered but also those whose democratically-elected representative had been removed.

“It will be a ground-breaking case,” he said, “which goes to the most important issues in democracy - the rights of elected representatives to speak freely and the extent to which an elected representative can be removed for mere words. That’s what it was. No one was punched. No one stole anything. It was what Mr Heesom has described as ‘robust criticism’ of senior council officers who get paid well to do their jobs.”

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  1. Posted by: Flintshire reader at 11:21 on 29 July 2014 Report

    When will he let this go? Has he got an endless pot of money for solicitors?

  2. Posted by: Roland-Cleth at 13:37 on 29 July 2014 Report

    What about the human rights of all the various members of council staff he has tried to bully during his "career"?

  3. Posted by: dukedom at 16:41 on 29 July 2014 Report

    Lets remember this was a tribunal hearing generated by County who admitted at tribunal to failing to adhere to their own rules in generating the complaint. Forget the individual- if it was you, would you not feel aggrieved that system had been abused by Chief Exec and 6 of his senior cohorts, a number of whom were not even employed at County when alleged offences occurred.Best of luck to anybody willing to take this shower on at County Hall and expose the shenanigans.

  4. Posted by: wonderwho at 17:49 on 29 July 2014 Report

    I am neutral regarding this case but the shower running FCC need to be questioned does not the pantomime regarding the crem application prove that point

  5. Posted by: dukedom at 19:48 on 29 July 2014 Report

    wonderwho- farce been evident there for years- its run on a purely political point scoring concept- not whats good for Flintshire people,, just for Labour party. Look at recent Connahs Quay housing application just overturned by Inspector. Solely refused on political and vote catching principle, It is political area of Council leader, his deputy, and recently elected Councillor- things that we would criticise strongly if it were in the developing world. Who pays costs- me and you

  6. Posted by: kevinweston11 at 21:01 on 29 July 2014 Report

    A few resignations from FCC and one or ten councillors would help to resolve several debacles.....

  7. Posted by: wonderwho at 09:53 on 30 July 2014 Report

    Dukedom- how true are your words and I know of a case over 10 yrs ago where a planning application was supported by officers passed by the subcommittee after a site visit only to be voted out at full committee because one Councillor called in his favors from his political partners, what was the outcome after £30k and an appeal the inspector found in favor of the applicants, the whole mess in County Hall needs exposing.

  8. Posted by: dukedom at 10:09 on 30 July 2014 Report

    wonderwho-thanks for your words. Too long have I seen this Authority abuse its ratepayers. Lets ,say, remember whistle blower Andy Sutton. Won his tribunal case, Labour politicians still appealed it despite tribunal chairman rebuke of County for its performance,. They lost again, County had legal costs of £800,000 in 2003, all to protect one of the party who was standing for Assembly seat.

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