It’s emerged that former Vale of Glamorgan Labour councillor Rob Curtis (who quit the council in August after being suspended by the Adjudication Panel for Wales for bringing the council into disrepute) had objected to the composition of an all-female panel which heard his case.
Former councillor Curtis – an electrician by profession – had represented Gibbonsdown Ward, Barry and was a £30,000-a-year member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s controlling ‘cabinet’ until unexpectedly stepping-down from that position early last year.
Later it emerged he was facing trial at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court. He had pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault on a 17-year-old-girl with whom he had been on a birdwatching expedition on the island of Skomer, Pembrokeshire. The common assault charge had been substituted for an original charge of sexual assault which had been dropped by the court.
After the court case, Mr Curtis continued for over a year as an ordinary Vale councillor whilst his case was considered by the Ombudsman for Wales – who then referred it to the Adjudication Panel for Wales.
On July 25th 2016 a “Case Tribunal” of the Adjudication Panel for Wales considered whether Cllr Curtis had breached paragraph 6.1(a) of the Vale of Glamorgan’s Code of Conduct, which states that “you must not conduct yourself in a manner which could be reasonably regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute”.
The Case Tribunal found that the conduct of Councillor Curtis was “unacceptable” , concluded that he had “brought his office into disrepute” and “suspended him from acting as a Member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Barry Town Council for a period of three months”. The Case Tribunal’s decision (as reported by PDN ) was released last month.
However, it now transpires that all three members of the “Case Tribunal” were female – and that, prior to the hearing, Cllr Curtis had objected to this.
The minutes of the Standards Committee of the Vale of Glamorgan Council held last month have now been published and reveal that the gender-balance of the “Case Tribunal” was a “preliminary issue” which had been raised by Councillor Curtis. The minutes record that “Councillor Curtis had submitted that given the nature of the allegation he would have preferred if at least one member of the panel was male. “
It’s now revealed that after the finding had been published, and after Cllr Curtis had resigned as a councillor, the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Standards Committee had discussed the matter and had determined that “ for the perception of fairness, all Case Tribunals should have both male and female members.”
The Vale Standards Committee says it recognises “the difficulties that the Adjudication Panel for Wales may be having in recruiting male members” and agreed that the council’s Monitoring Officer [ the officer who oversees procedural matters on the council] should write a letter to Adjudication Panel for Wales to make this point.
A by-election to fill Mr Curtis’s former Vale Council seat is being held on Thursday November 3rd.