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Council / Watchdog investigating complaint over handling of councillor’s referral

Lerwick Town Hall.

THE ETHICAL Standards Commissioner’s handling of a referral over a local councillor is under investigation.

The complaints against Shetland Central member Ian Scott were dismissed by the commissioner earlier this year.

He was referred for claiming information he had received from a council official on one occasion had been a “lie”, as well as his conduct in the council chamber during the same incident, which happened in September last year.

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Scott was reported to the Edinburgh-based watchdog by council convener Malcolm Bell and leader Steven Coutts.

At a meeting of the council’s audit committee on Wednesday Scott asked whether an apology would be forthcoming from the SIC leadership for his referral considering no action was taken.

Council convener Malcolm Bell (left) and councillor for Shetland Central Ian Scott. Photos: Shetland News

But chairman Allison Duncan said the matter should be raised outside of the committee.

In response to the call for an apology, Bell said in a statement after the meeting:

“Councillor Scott was appropriately referred to the Ethical Standards Commissioner, initially in September 2020.

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“The commissioner’s handling of the referrals is the subject of a live complaint and currently under investigation.

“Therefore, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

It is understood an external consultant has been contracted by the Ethical Standards Commissioner to carry out “in depth review” into the issue.

A spokesperson for the Ethical Standards Commissioner said: “I can confirm that we are currently investigating a complaint about the Commissioner’s handling of the original referral.

“We will publish the results of this investigation on our website when it is complete.”

The Ethical Standards Commissioner who ruled over Scott’s case, Caroline Anderson, is not in post at the moment – with an acting commissioner in the role instead.

The commissioner and their team act as an ombudsman in Scotland with the responsibility for investigating complaints about MSPs, councillors and members of Scottish public bodies.

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