Taxpayer foots bill for Tower Hamlets Council complaint based on "personal vendetta"
PUBLISHED: 10:25 12 February 2013 | UPDATED: 11:10 12 February 2013
Tower Hamlets Council has been accused of wasting thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money pursuing a complaint against one of its own councillors - only for the case to be withdrawn after more than a year.
Almost £7,000 of public money was spent hiring an external investigator, and a senior barrister was also instructed after Independent councillors lodged a complaint against Conservative group leader Cllr Peter Golds in November 2011.
The grievance followed an interview he gave to a Channel 4 documentary into relations between Tower Hamlets Council and the Islamic Forum of Europe.
But it was withdrawn from an external tribunal last week, with the judge ruling he had no jurisdiction to hear the case.
Cllr Golds insists he was not even notified of the proceedings until November 2012 – five months after a Tribunal judge had first rejected the case, and a year after the complaint was first made. But officers continued to pursue it, before withdrawing an appeal days before the Tribunal was due to hear it.
Cllr Golds is now calling for an investigation into the public money used to pursue to the complaint and the conduct of a senior Town Hall officer, who “pursues personal vendettas” against opposition councillors.
In a letter to the council’s head of paid services, Stephen Halsey, Cllr Golds wrote: “Councillors who are in opposition to the administration have been subjected to long and drawn out standards inquiries on trivial matters.
“[The officer] effectively brings personal actions against members without reference and is therefore using her office to pursue personal vendettas.
“There needs to be a full and independent investigation into this and if disciplinary proceedings are recommended, they should be undertaken swiftly”, he added.
A spokesperson for the council said the call for an investigation was being looked at, but declined to comment further.