FLINTSHIRE Council Leader, Aaron Shotton, has disregarded claims made by the former deputy leader that he was sacked from his cabinet role for standing up for a former council employee.

Cllr Bernie Attridge was sacked by Cllr Shotton from his position as cabinet member for housing and deputy leader on Wednesday, March 27, after being accused of a ‘recent and significant’ case of releasing private information by the council leader.

Cllr Attridge issued a statement on Twitter following his dismissal, stating:

“I am shocked and saddened to have been dismissed from the cabinet of Flintshire Council.

“This was entirely the decision of Aaron Shotton, who is himself mired in an ombudsman’s inquiry into his conduct.

"There's no such inquiry into my behaviour.”

Cllr Shotton, who has been at the centre of an ongoing inquiry by the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales into allegations that he had an inappropriate relationship with a female member of staff, defended his actions in a statement on Thursday, saying:

“Over the years there have been a number of breaches of confidence by the councillor.

“I have shown Cllr Attridge my loyalty over those years and have given him support, and access to advice and the support of others, in an attempt to prevent a recurrence.

“Unfortunately, there has been a recent and significant further breach of confidence.

“The cumulative effect of the councillor’s actions has been an erosion, and now a loss, of trust and confidence.

“Regrettably, I have been placed in a position of having no option but to take this decisive action to protect the council.”

Relations between the two leading members of the controlling Labour group at County Hall in Mold have been souring for months, culminating in Cllr Attridge’s dismissal from the eight member cabinet.

A public meeting is due to be held in support of Cllr Attridge at the Wetherspoons in Shotton on Monday, April 1.

In response to the council leader’s allegations, Cllr Attridge dismissed them, claiming he was removed from his position for defending a former female member of staff.

“I voiced serious concerns to colleagues about the dismissal of a female member of staff following a series of newspaper allegations about the conduct of Aaron Shotton.

“I continue to believe that is grossly unfair that she lost her job while the leader of the council remains in post.

“I make no apology for speaking up for her, I will continue to do so.”

However, in yet another statement, Cllr Shotton has disregarded Cllr Attridge’s claims, saying:

“On Thursday, I gave the reasons why I acted as I did in relation to Cllr Attridge. The employment case mentioned by him was not one of those reasons.”

Flintshire Council has confirmed Cllr Shotton’s statements, saying that he did indeed disclose the breaches of confidence as reasons for the sacking of Cllr Attridge, not due to the former deputy leader’s claims.

A council statement says:

"The Council can confirm that Cllr Shotton has disclosed the breaches of confidence he cited as reasons for his actions in respect of Cllr Attridge.

"He did this in order to show those breaches had been acted upon and to protect the Council from possible claims.

"From the disclosure made by Cllr Shotton the employment case mentioned was not one of the reasons given."