Two Edinburgh Tories face Standards Commission hearing

Cameron Rose is one of the Tory councillors who will face a public hearing. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Cameron Rose is one of the Tory councillors who will face a public hearing. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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TWO top city Tories face a public hearing in front of the Standards Commission after an investigation found they had breached the councillors’ code of conduct.

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

Jeremy Balfour. Picture: Julie Bull

Jeremy Balfour. Picture: Julie Bull

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

An investigation by the standards commissioner concluded Cllrs Rose and Balfour had contravened the code of conduct, which says councillors should not raise matters relating to the conduct or capability of employees in public.

And now the Standards Commission is to hold a public hearing into the case. It is currently scheduled for May 17.

Cameron Rose.  Picture: Ian Rutherford

Cameron Rose. Picture: Ian Rutherford

If a complaint is upheld, the commission has the power to censure, suspend or even disqualify councillors.

A third Tory councillor, Joanna Mowat, was also included in the complaint over a comment she made to the Evening News, but the commissioner found she had not breached the code.

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.

The meeting where the five officials were named had earlier heard the centre had been plagued by “an appalling catalogue of building defects” since it was completed in 2009.

Cllr Rose said: “This is the first time I’ve been through this process and the thing which surprises me is that over two years later the issue is still undecided.

“I fully expect to be cleared and in the meantime I have continued to act on behalf of my constituents whether is relation to the Cameron House issues or elsewhere.”

Cllr Balfour said he welcomed the opportunity for a full hearing because he believed he had done nothing wrong. He said: “In fact I was doing my job as a councillor, scrutinising officers in an appropriate way. I’m confident none of the allegations will be upheld.”

Cllr Mowat said she was pleased to have been cleared, adding: “The comment I made was not directed at any individual. It was really in testimony to the people from Cameron House who had put up with an awful lot. I felt their persistence in the face of obfuscation should be recognised.”