Council leader suspended for leaking private information to press

The Labour politician was found to have leaked the confidential information 'in part for political gain'.

South Lanarkshire Council leader suspended for two months for leaking information to media Google Maps

The leader of a Scottish local authority has been suspended for two months after disclosing confidential information to the media.

South Lanarkshire Council leader Joe Fagan was found to have breached the councillor’s code of conduct just before the 2021 Holyrood election.

An investigation by the Standards Commissioner said he had damaged the reputation of the council and “impeded discussions on decision-making”.

The probe said the Labour politician, who took over as leader in May, leaked the information “at least in part for political gain”.

Suzanne Vestri, Standards Commission member and chair of the hearing panel, said: “The obligation on councillors to refrain from disclosing confidential information is a key requirement of the councillors’ code of conduct.

“A failure to respect confidentiality can damage the reputation and integrity of a council, and can also impede discussions and decision-making.”

Fagan had leaked a list of leisure facilities that were said to be at risk of closure under the previous SNP administration.

The Standards Commission said it was “disappointed” he had disclosed the information, “despite the version of the code in place at the time clearly stating that information provided to councillors for use in that role must not be disclosed or in any way used for personal or party-political advantage or in such a way as to discredit the council.”

Vestri said Fagan had cooperated fully with the probe and found “no evidence of repeated behaviour over a long period of time, of dishonesty and/or concealment, or of any previous contraventions of the code”.

A council spokesman said: “We note the outcome of the hearing of the Ethical Standards Commission for Scotland and we await the written judgement, which we expect to receive within 14 days.”

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