Former Council leader censured for sexual harassment of female employees

Posted on: 5 July 2018

A leading Councillor has been found guilty of serious breaches of Devon County Council’s Code of Conduct following an investigation by cross-party Standards Committee.

In an unprecedented action, the Committee resolved to issue a notice of public censure to Councillor Brian Greenslade at a meeting held on 2 July. This is the strongest possible measure against an elected member available to a Council.

The Standards Committee decision followed a formal complaint from the Chief Executive regarding the alleged sexual harassment and abuse of a number of female employees by Councillor Greenslade over a number of years.

The Notice of Censure states:

Councillor Greenslade is hereby formally censured for his sexual misconduct against female members of Devon County Council staff that resulted in the findings of serious and significant breaches of the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct.

In particular, the sustained and repeated sexual harassment of female members of staff and abuse of his position as a senior and established member of the Council over a prolonged period fell well short of the conduct that can reasonably be expected of an elected member.

Councillor Greenslade’s lack of insight into how his actions may have affected the female members of staff and his indifference to that effect of his actions is of serious concern as are his actions during the investigation which demonstrated that he was prepared to put his own credibility and reputation above his responsibilities to the Council, its staff and his constituents.

This continued poor behaviour falls far below the standards that can reasonably be expected, either by a councillor or anyone.

The Committee further called on the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on the Council to remove Councillor Greenslade from all committees, sub-committees and outside bodies. Access to council buildings will also be restricted.

The Standards Committee decision was made after consideration of an independent investigation by a leading QC Tim Straker. This involved face-to-face interviews with members of staff and Councillor Greenslade who also had the opportunity to comment on the report.

Announcing the decision, Chair of the Standards Committee Councillor Caroline Chugg said:

“This is not a decision that we came to lightly but the weight of evidence was such that we could reach no other conclusion than to find Councillor Greenslade in clear breach of our Code of Conduct.

“On receiving a serious complaint of sexual harassment and abuse involving a number of female employees over several years, we ordered an independent investigation.

“I am sad to say that this investigation revealed a clear pattern of behaviour by Councillor Greenslade that can only be described as highly inappropriate and likely to cause offence and distress.

“As a senior politician this was a clear abuse of his position with conduct that falls far short of that expected of those in public office.

“All of us in public life have an absolute and unshakeable duty to ensure our staff can go about their important work for the people of Devon free from harassment and abuse.”

Chief Executive Phil Norrey added:

“As a Council we take our duty to provide a safe workplace free from all forms of harassment very seriously and have always promoted and championed the highest standards of personal conduct both from our staff and elected Members.

“We have clear policies and guidelines on what is, and what is not, acceptable behaviour and robust procedures for ensuring all complaints involving such behaviour are dealt with thoroughly and fairly.”

The powers for a Council to disqualify or suspend an elected member were removed along with the abolition of the Standards Board for England under the Localism Act 2011.

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Posted in: DCC Homepage | Politics