Maldon councillor sanctioned for ‘serious’ code of conduct breaches over bullying claims

  Posted: 07.09.21 at 16:16 by Charlotte Lillywhite

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A Maldon district councillor has been sanctioned after two investigations into his behaviour recommended that he had bullied council members.

The district council’s joint standards committee unanimously agreed yesterday (Monday, 6 September) that Independent councillor Chrisy Morris had breached the council’s code of conduct following the findings of two reports into his behaviour.

The first report concerns complaints made by councillors, while the second deals with complaints from the district council’s corporate leadership team.

Mr Lewin, who conducted the second investigation, told the committee: “These are your employees and they are entitled to a safe workplace in which they are not subject to unacceptable behaviour.”

Mr Lewin’s report found that Councillor Morris had shown “a clear pattern of aggressive, intimidating behaviour targeted at an individual officer in an attempt to undermine and humiliate her”.

He also concluded that Councillor Morris had breached the code by “bullying” another officer.

The first report found a “failure to treat people with respect” and “bullying” in relation to Councillor Morris’ behaviour during meetings and in an email which was copied to all members.

It also found that he had disclosed confidential information regarding a former councillor on social media.

Mr Oram, who carried out the first investigation, said: “It’s absolutely important that members are able to express genuine concerns about the conduct of officers as part of their role.

“But it must be done in an appropriate manner and in a manner that allows firstly for the officers to defend themselves against any allegations, and also to respect the privacy of that process while it takes place.”

Both investigators recommended in their report that Councillor Morris “be found to have bullied others” and “conducted himself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office or the authority into disrepute”.

Councillor Morris, who disputed the report’s findings, said: “I have grave concerns and have had grave concerns - as members will confirm.

“I have tried to get these concerns investigated and addressed, and literally I can’t - no one will listen.”

Revealing the committee’s decision, Councillor Mark Bassenger, the chairman, said: “Although we have found serious breaches of the code of conduct, we note that Councillor Morris does not appear to realise how he comes across to others.

“We would therefore recommend that Councillor Morris is provided with and accepts training in conflict management and resolving disputes.”

The committee proposed to “formally censure” Councillor Morris by restricting his access to I.T. and email.

It also recommended that Councillor Morris be removed from all committees and working groups or outside bodies for the municipal year, although he does not currently sit on any.

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