Councillor Mike Breslin vindicated after Argyll council claims thrown out
A COUNCILLOR FOR DUNOON has won his case for free speech after charges by controversial council management were thrown out by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life.
Independent member Mike Breslin, who previously sat with the SNP group, was challenged by the council’s unpopular management team after sticking up for campaigners seeking a community buyout of the derelict Castle Toward building and estate.
Breslin was blamed by the council leadership and management for criticism they received as a result of the botched scandal – which saw years of community effort to bring jobs and investment to Dunoon rejected in favour of a private bidder.
The fallout – which included allegations of bullying and intimidation being levelled at the council management – led to Breslin being charged with numerous incidents of misconduct, forcing him through a lengthy and expensive judicial process.
All charges were thrown out with the exception of a single contentious email that could yet be subject to appeal.
Speaking to CommonSpace following the decision, Breslin said: “I am relieved this 18 month process resulted in just one alleged breach of the code of conduct. I may appeal this once I get the written judgement because, on the face of it, I have broken the code because someone else leaked an email I wrote.
“This case has cost me a small fortune in legal fees defending myself but my crowd funder has helped, so thanks to all who donated. This is a landmark judgement and gives councillors freedom to raise matters with officers without fear of going through what I went through.”
The Castle Toward scandal set dozens of dedicated local campaigners against an intransigent council establishment that repeatedly rejected opportunities to progress a community right to buy.
Executive director of customer services Douglas Hendry was singled out for criticism from various whistleblowers, who contacted CommonSpace concerned at the direction of the council.
Evidence emerged of the council abandoning care workers to shoddy contracts, mishandling serious allegations at a local school, trying to shut down a nine year old’s food blog, giving payout to sacked communications staff. The council was slammed by watchdog Audit Scotland, and demanded the sacking of journalists.
Picture courtesy of Save Castle Toward
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