News / Wills cleared by Standards Commission

SHETLAND councillor Jonathan Wills has been cleared of all 10 complaints made against him to the Standards Commission for Scotland by the local authority’s most senior councillors and officials.

The complaints by Shetland Islands Council convener Sandy Cluness, vice convener Josie Simpson, former chief executive Dave Clark, acting chief executive Hazel Sutherland and monitoring officer Jan Riise were made last October.

They followed a strongly worded statement issued to all council staff by Dr Wills following a council investigation into his allegations that the former chief executive had threatened to kick his teeth in.

The internal inquiry found insufficient evidence to prove the threats were made, but Dr Wills said the investigation had “trampled” on his civil rights by refusing to consider crucial evidence and legal arguments, preventing him from questioning witnesses or having a lawyer with him.

His public statement entitled “Hardly a Surprise” was sent to more than 3,000 employees via email, triggering the complaints from the council leadership that he had failed to uphold the councillors’ code of conduct.


Since then Mr Clark has left the council after receiving a substantial tax free payment, and local government watchdog The Accounts Commission has announced it will be holding a public hearing into recent events at Scotland’s northernmost authority.

This week the chief investigating officer with the Standards Commission, Stuart Allan, has written to Dr Wills and the complainants with his 37 page decision that the code had not been contravened.

In a statement on Wednesday, Dr Wills said: “The past seven months have been stressful for me and my family, as I could have been banned from holding public office for up to five years if found guilty.

“However, upon reading the exhaustively detailed, forensic investigation that exonerates me, I now understand why it has taken so long to complete.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News


He also issued a public apology to SIC head of planning Iain McDiarmid for publishing a letter he had written about the way a planning application for Lerwick’s new £50 million Anderson High School had been handled, after the Standards Commission said it was “extremely unwise”.

“I acted in the heat of the moment and this was an error. I do not, however, withdraw a word of what I said in the letter,” the councillor said.

He quoted the report, which has not yet been made public, that said: “The purpose of the Code is not to stifle comment made by difficult, tenacious, stubborn, thrawn or recalcitrant politicians, if there is a stateable – even remote – public interest argument, as self evidently there is in this case.”

Dr Wills added: “I wish to thank my family, my constituents and those of my elected colleagues who have stood by me during this most unpleasant experience.


“Thrawn as I am, I will continue to ask awkward questions about public business, without fear or favour – but also to give SIC staff credit where credit’s due (as it almost always is in this council).”

He added that he would continue to ask that the complainers, who he refers to as “The Dave Clark Five”, to repay more than £3,000 – “the cost of SIC legal and administrative resources employed in their failed attempt to make me a scapegoat for the Clark affair, and to have me excluded from the council chamber.”

Mr Clark refused to comment on the decision, while both Ms Sutherland and Mr Riise said they were bound by the confidentiality provisions of ethical standards legislation and therefore could not comment. Mr Simpson was unavailable for comment.

Last week the Standards Commission cleared Shetland West councillor Gary Robinson over comments he made about local knitwear company Judane (Shetland) Ltd and fellow councillor Caroline Miller, an unpaid consultant to the firm.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.