In an extraordinary series of High Court decisions Judge Gendall has legitimised new extensions of the DCC internal Code of Conduct process to now allow any member of the public or Council staff to take a Code of Conduct action against an Elected Representative that was previously limited only to Elected Representatives and the CEO.
Any extended Code of Conduct complaint claims, whether true or false, can now be anonymously leaked by any DCC staff member as a smear campaign during an election run-up with the Elected Representative having no opportunity of defence against such Code of Conduct leaks or to know who has made them. The Bureaucratic Power imbalance has further shifted against vulnerable Elected Representatives.
The judgement means that any member of the public or any DCC employee may now make anonymous allegations against a Councillor via the CEO and have that Councillor tried in an alternative quasi-Court process where the anonymous complaint against an Elected Representative does not need to be shown to them, where evidence of anonymous bystanders can be accepted by a CEO’s investigator without this evidence being shown to the Elected Representative and without any opportunity to question or examine such evidence.
The investigator can now be anyone that the DCC CEO decides, and well paid for carrying out this Code of Conduct process facilitated by the CEO.
This now extended Code of Conduct Process against an Elected Representative, plus any legal supporting opinions for it, are completely publicly funded, with the accused Elected Representative having to personally fund any legal action in defence.
In this newly legitimised quasi court Code of Conduct process, normal natural justice requirements have been quashed, so that the accused Representative may never see the actual detailed complaints made against them, or see and respond to any other anonymous evidence prior to an Investigator’s decision and report being finalised.
What the accused Elected Representative has actually said now never needs be stated in any Code of Conduct complaint, and the complaint may be upheld purely on ‘tone’ arguments.
Judge Gendall’s series of decisions now makes it dangerous for any Elected Representative to complain of any Council staff member not doing their job, as this complaint can be ignored by staff and replaced with an anonymous Code of Complaint against the Representative instead.
Judge Gendall’s decision also opens the door for any member of the public to anonymously attack an Elected Representative and have a publicly funded Code of Conduct action taken against them via the CEO for any comment made by the elected member; publicly, in a personal email, or on social media.
These new Code of Conduct dangers for Elected Representatives make it very unwise for Elected Representatives to criticise or complain of any Council staff member not doing their job, or to be a whistle-blower in the public interest if Council staff are found to be negligent or acting fraudulently, or to speak in a ‘tone’ that somebody may find offensive.
The already constrained job of being an active Elected Representative has now become more restricted and open to anonymous attack.
It is becoming fruitless to try and fight or complain of City Hall.
I am considering an Appeal of these decisions with my Legal Counsel because they impact on my ability to Represent, and on Local Government Elected Representatives in general.
The full Judge’s decision follows: