Maldon District Council: former leader who claimed he was a victim of social media bullying deliberately undermined and humiliated a gay councillor, new report finds

By The Editor

7th Sep 2021 | Local News

Former Maldon District Council leader, Cllr Adrian Fluker: report concludes he 'brought the council into disrepute'
Former Maldon District Council leader, Cllr Adrian Fluker: report concludes he 'brought the council into disrepute'

FORMER Maldon District Council leader Adrian Fluker – who just two weeks ago told local media that he was a victim of social media bullying – has himself been found to have used a campaign of deliberate humiliation against a gay councillor, a damning independent report has found.

It had emerged in recent weeks that Cllr Fluker had made a "hello sailor" comment to fellow Tory, Councillor Richard Siddall, in a council meeting last September. It was also alleged that Cllr Fluker had made a 'throat slit' gesture to Cllr Siddall and another council member when both had abstained from a vote.

However, the independent report published on the council's website yesterday (Tuesday, 24 August) reveals that Cllr Siddall complained of a catalogue of bullying and intimidation, including:

  • making a joke to council officers about what Cllr Siddall would do when he got home to his husband
  • shouting "Siddall" in front of other councillors before a council meeting last August, with the clear intent of drawing attention to the fact that his outfit was not compliant with the Conservative group's dress code
  • talking to Cllr Siddall in a deliberately camp manner at a council meeting in September, both in relation to what he was wearing and with the comment "hello sailor"
  • making a throat cutting gesture towards Cllr Siddall and another councillor when they abstained from a vote in the same meeting.

The report, by C, H and I Associates, drafted in by the council to independently investigate the claims, concluded that:

"Councillor Fluker's conduct towards Councillor Siddall appears to be designed to deliberately undermine and humiliate him whenever the opportunity arises."

The investigators found that Cllr Fluker had broken the council's code of conduct, so 'bringing the council into disrepute'.

Cllr Fluker refused to co-operate with the investigation into his behaviour

Cllr Siddall also told investigators about a series of other incidents involving Cllr Fluker – but Cllr Fluker refused to co-operate with investigators and the conclusions in the report are informed by the accounts of other councillors who witnessed events and recordings of council meetings, as well as the investigators' analysis of what took place.

Conservative Councillor Adrian Fluker gave social media bullying as one of the reasons for his resignation from the leadership of the council and, in the days around that claim, it also emerged that the council had paid £50,000 for a separate report into the conduct of three Conservative members of the council's Joint Standards Committee, who found that the complaints about Cllr Fluker's behaviour did not warrant further action. Other councillors had claimed that the members had not fulfilled their duty of independent scrutiny of the issue and the report found them to have 'brought the council into disrepute'.

This story and the cost of the earlier report was highlighted in the national media, without the new report being available to paint a fuller picture. One of the reasons given by a Maldon District Council spokesman for the apparent delay in publishing the latest report - it is dated 3 August - is the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic situation on the scheduling of council meetings.

The council's Joint Standards Committee will look at the complaint in light of the report on Thursday, 3 September.

     

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