A COUNCILLOR accused of altering an email has been found guilty by a standards sub-committee.
Clr Robert Bleakley, who did not attend the hearing, was accused of deliberately altering an email last March in an attempt to jeopardise a senior employee’s job, and later admitted doctoring the email in a discussion with deputy chief executive Paul McKevitt.
A panel consisting of Clr Charles Rigby, chairman of the standards committee, Clr Shirley Dewhurst and Clr Lynne Holland found unanimously that Clr Bleakley had breached the council’s protocol on member/officer relations and paragraphs five and six of the members’ code of conduct.
Clr Rigby said: “This was a very serious complaint against Clr Bleakley. His actions nearly cost the jobs of two innocent employees and we simply will not tolerate it. I hope today’s hearing proves that the standards committee takes its role very seriously and will continue to do so.”
The independent candidate for Tyldesley’s emails will now be monitored for a period of 12 months and he will have to attend one to one coaching sessions. If his behaviour improves, then the 12 months email monitoring sanction will be reduced to a minimum of six.
Leader of Wigan Council Lord Peter Smith said: “This particular complaint could have cost two employees their jobs and that is not acceptable. It is our job is to protect and defend our employees and that is what we will do. I just hope that this hearing makes him think about the possible consequences of his behaviour in future, but I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Clr Bleakley, who told the Journal he had been advised not to attend the hearing, said he believed there were discrepancies with the way the proceedings had been conducted and that it had been a ‘witch hunt from start to finish’.
“This matter was widely broadcast internally and in the media in June 2013 and I was pronounced guilty in advance of any investigation,” he added.