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Standards Committee releases report on suspension of next Mayor of Wrexham

Ysgol Tanyfron

A COUNCIL’S Standards Committee has released a report on its decision to suspend the next Mayor of Wrexham.

Brymbo Councillor Paul Rogers (Ind), the current Deputy Mayor, is serving a three month suspension after an ombudsman investigation into an incident outside Ysgol Tanyfron two years ago.

Cllr Paul Rogers

Cllr Rogers is due to succeed Cllr Brian Cameron, the current Mayor of Wrexham in May. His suspension runs to May 16.

The Ombudsman received a complaint from a member of the public that Cllr Rogers had breached the Code of Conduct when he made an alleged false complaint about the complainant to the police, relating to the incident which occurred on a bus.

This complaint led to an Ombudsman investigation and referral to the standards committee.

The standards committee report states: “Having obtained CCTV footage of the incident from the bus company and evidence from the police, the Ombudsman did not consider that the complainant appeared aggressive as suggested by Councillor Rogers and found that comments made by the complainant to Councillor Rogers during the incident related to issues which were public knowledge.

“On the basis of the information available, the Ombudsman did not consider they could reasonably be considered “verbal abuse”.

“The Ombudsman concluded that Councillor Rogers’ correspondence to the police was misleading and exaggerated.

“He felt it was made in his capacity as a member of both the Community and County Councils doing so in his official capacity, despite the fact he was present on the bus in his personal capacity.”

The Ombudsman found that attempting to misuse his position in this way and wrongly accusing someone of committing a public order offence was capable of bringing the Councillor’s office or authority into disrepute, a possible breach of the code of conduct.

According to the standards committee, on July 26, 2022, they considered the report of the Ombudsman and decided Cllr Rogers should be given the opportunity to make representations in respect of the findings of the investigation.

Cllr Rogers disputed the findings of fact in the Ombudsman’s Investigation Report and provided further evidence ahead of an oral hearing.

The report adds: “On January 12, 2023, the Standards Committee considered the Ombudsman’s report and heard representations from the Ombudsman and Councillor Rogers. The Ombudsman also called the complainant as a witness.”

The disputed facts were:

  • Whether Councillor Rogers alleged to the Police that the complainant had sworn;
  • Was the complainant aggressive and abusive;
  • Whether Councillor Rogers made a complaint to the Police with regards to the complainant’s conduct.
  • Whether the Police had properly investigated the incident on the day in question.

The Ombudsman stated that the police investigation was not relevant to the hearing, but Cllr Rogers’ behaviour after the incident by way of emails he sent to the police in relation to the complainant’s behaviour was.

On the disputed facts the committee agreed:

  • Insufficient evidence – no longer disputed;
  • On the balance of probabilities, this was not proved;
  • Yes, via numerous emails;
  • No relevance.

The report adds: “The Standards Committee found Councillor Rogers had breached the Code of Conduct in relation to paragraphs 6(1)(a) and 7(a).

“Prior to considering further action or sanction the committee allowed Councillor Rogers to present three character witnesses on his behalf. Two attended in person whilst the third had submitted an email which was read to the committee by the chair.”

As a result of the meeting, the standards committee decided to suspend Cllr Rogers from his duties as a County Councillor and a Brymbo Community Councillor for a period of three months.

Cllr Rogers made an application for permission to appeal to the Adjudication Panel for Wales (APW).

But the President of the APW deemed the application to have been made out of time – outside of the 21 day period in which to appeal.

The report can be read in full online at Decision report of the Wrexham County Borough Council Standards Committee in relation to Paul Rogers