Richard Harwood has successfully represented Councillor Peter Golds in a local government standards case in the Upper Tribunal. Councillor Golds had been interviewed for a Channel 4 Dispatches programme by Andrew Gilligan which was broadcast in March 2010. In November 2011 complaints were made alleging that in the interview the Councillor had disclosed confidential information about Tower Hamlet’s Assistant Chief Executive (who had been forced to resign shortly after the programme). In June 2012 the Council’s Standards Assessment Sub-Committee received an investigator’s report alleging that there had been breaches of the Code.
As the Council’s powers to impose sanctions on councillors were about to be abolished by the Localism Act 2011, the Sub-Committee asked the First Tier Tribunal whether it would accept a referral of the case so that it could impose sanctions. The First Tier Tribunal rejected the request, considering that the investigator’s report showed that most of the claimed confidential information had been previously published, and that if the case were proven, it would not impose a sanction justifying a referral.
The Council then sought to appeal this refusal to the Upper Tribunal. Richard Harwood acted pro bono for Councillor Golds. In the light of Richard’s skeleton the Council asked the Tribunal to consent to the withdrawal of the appeal two days before the appeal hearing. The Council accepted (and the Tribunal agreed) that the Upper Tribunal had no jurisdiction to hear their appeal. As there had not been a referral of the standards complaint to the First Tier Tribunal before 1st July 2012, the Council was now too late to do so.
This may be the final case under the old local government standards regime.
See below for press coverage of the case: