A former Provost of East Dunbartonshire Council has been censured for breaching the Councillor’s Code of Conduct.
Long-service councillor Eric Gotts, who stood down at the last local elections, appeared at a hearing of the Standards Commission for Scotland on Tuesday (August 22).
The hearing panel found that Mr Gotts had engaged in an inappropriate course of conduct towards a relatively junior officer of the council which included trying to develop a personal friendship with her.
This was despite being aware of the distinction between the officer’s role and his own perceived position of power and influence as convener of education with budgetary oversight over the service in which she was employed.
The hearing panel also found that he had disclosed confidential information about the officer to a third party.
As Mr Gotts was no longer a councillor the only sanctions available to the hearing panel were either censure or disqualification, with the result that Mr Gotts was given a censure.
But the hearing panel noted that, had he still been a councillor, he would have been suspended.
The Hearing Panel Chair, Professor Kevin Dunion, said: “The hearing panel considers that councillors have a duty under the Code to treat officers with courtesy and respect and to refrain from disclosing confidential information.
In this case, Mr Gotts’ behaviour went well beyond that which is acceptable and had the potential to erode the relationship of mutual trust and respect between councillors and officers. It could also have discredited the council.”