Tories call for review of code of conduct after being cleared of breach

Council conservative Leader Cameron Rose. Picture; Ian Georgeson
Council conservative Leader Cameron Rose. Picture; Ian Georgeson

Two top city Tories have been cleared of breaching the councillors’ code of conduct at a public hearing in front of the Standards Commission.

Council group leader Cameron Rose and Jeremy Balfour, now a Lothian MSP, were the subject of a complaint by former senior council official Mike Rosendale over the naming of five city employees involved in the management of a troubled project to rebuild Cameron House community centre in Prestonfield.

Conservative Lothian MSP Jeremy Balfour.

Conservative Lothian MSP Jeremy Balfour.

The five were named by Councillor Rose at a meeting of the council’s governance, risk and best value committee in March 2015, which was chaired by Cllr Balfour.

It is understood Mr 
Rosendale, who was head of schools but no longer works for the council, felt that his name being publicly mentioned in connection with the controversy was potentially libellous.

Cllr Rose said: “The Standards Commission has finally cleared Jeremy Balfour and myself of breaching the councillors’ code of conduct at a committee meeting over two years ago.

“The accusations against me related to a key part in the process of lifting the lid on some dubious events at Edinburgh council. I was doing what it took to represent my constituents, to ensure that wrongdoing and malpractice was recognised and to pursue openness and honesty in the council.”

Mr Balfour called for a review into the councillors’ code of conduct. He said: “I am pleased at the decision and I think it was the right one, however it now leaves councillors in a difficult position. There needs to be a whole review of the code of conduct – how it works and how it should work.

“It has to come from the Scottish Government, they will need to look at this decision very carefully and the implications it has for all councillors.”

Cameron House has been at the centre of a long-running controversy involving botched building works and a “dirty tricks” campaign which targeted a council whistleblower.

Cllr Rose added: “There remain unanswered questions about events associated with the council’s involvement at Cameron House Community Centre and I will continue to pursue them as is my responsibility.”

Former council leader Donald Anderson, who was involved in the whistleblowing case, said: “I very much welcome this verdict as a victory for common sense.

“Indeed, it would have been perverse if the only people who were taken to task for all the faults in the handling or the whistleblowing case and the faults in construction at Cameron House Community Centre, were councillors who were trying to do something about it.”

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk