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Councillor sanctioned for conduct in meeting

The Chair of Middlesbrough Council’s Standards Committee has been sanctioned for behaviour likely to bring the authority into disrepute.

A Standards Committee hearing has concluded Cllr Jon Rathmell’s conduct at a meeting of the Council in January this year fell below the standards expected of elected representatives.

The complaints alleged that:

  • Cllr Rathmell through his lack of respect for council procedures and protocol caused serious disruption to the Council meeting by: refusing requests to be seated, desisting from raising his voice, talking over the Chair of Council, disregarding the ruling of the Chair by behaving improperly, and obstructing business.
  • Cllr Rathmell refused to adhere to the chair's ruling, disregarded standard and polite requests, showing a contempt for council procedures which could lead any members of the public witnessing such behaviour to lower their regard for any Councillor and lessen respect for reasoned debate and discussion.
  • Cllr Rathmell through his lack of respect for Council procedures and protocol caused serious disruption to the meeting, standing up and raising his voice, talking over the Chair of the Council, refusing the request of the Chair to sit down, which led to the meeting being adjourned until Cllr Rathmell left the Council chamber. Concerned that Cllr Rathmell’s behaviour reflects badly on other councillors and the public may think it is okay to behave in such a manner.

Each complaint alleged that Cllr Rathmell breached Part 3 of the members Code of Conduct by ‘conducting himself in a manner which is likely to bring the authority or the office of Councillor into disrepute’ and showed a failure to ‘respect others’.

The complaints were independently investigated by Middlesbrough Council solicitor Andrew Perriman. In his report he wrote: “To conclude my findings, I have carefully considered the complaints, the response to the complaints, the council constitution, and the code of conduct.

“I find that Councillor Rathmell did breach the Code of Conduct in that he conducted himself in a manner which was likely to bring the authority or the office of Councillor into disrepute.”

The committee concluded that Cllr Rathmell had breached the Code of Conduct and imposed the sanctions that the councillor undergo additional training around the constitution and code of conduct, to give an undertaking to adhere to the Code of Conduct and the constitution, and that he be removed from his role as Chair of the Standards Committee and to not be eligible to be re-elected until May 2020.