Tierney dismisses complaints as “baseless” as conduct hearing set to rule on filming UKIP county councillor at Wisbech meeting
PUBLISHED: 14:58 07 July 2014 | UPDATED: 14:58 07 July 2014
A Conservative town councillor is facing a disciplinary probe following complaints that he was “intentionally discourteous, disrespectful and deliberately intimidating” to a UKIP county councillor.
The complaint arose after Councillor Steve Tierney began filming UKIP county councillor Alan Lay during a town council meeting.
The filming triggered three complaints to Fenland Council conduct committee from Cllr Lay, his colleague Councillor Paul Clapp and independent town and district councillor Dave Patrick.
Cllr Tierney refuted the claim and told district council officials “these baseless attempts by Clapp, Lay and Patrick are actually an attempt to bully and intimidate me. “But I won’t be making a complaint about it because I don’t find them intimidating at all”.
The conduct committee, chaired by Wisbech district councillor Samantha Hoy, will make an “initial consideration” of the complaints on Friday before deciding if Cllr Tierney has potentially breached the councillors’ code of conduct.
The controversy arose from the May 19 meeting of Wisbech town council and Cllr Patrick said that as Cllr Lay got up to speak “Cllr Tierney turned his phone on and proceeded to film him speaking with the phone placed just a little way from his face. “It is my belief that this was being done intentionally to intimidate and try to embarrass Cllr Lay.”
Cllr Patrick argued that Cllr Tierney – who lost his county council seat to Cllr Lay last May by 11 votes-, had acted in a way “unbecoming of his role as a councillor”.
The argument over filming was defused by the mayor and after his intervention Cllr Tierney stopped.
Cllr Tierney later wrote on his blog that county council meetings are regularly filmed “and when I was a county councillor I was recorded loads of times. It’s awkward and uncomfortable if you’re not used to it but its part and parcel of what you expect when you become an elected representative.
“I wasn’t recording Alan Lay sitting quietly, or picking his nose, or anything like that. “I wasn’t trying to embarrass him. He was making a public statement as a county councillor on an issue that was serious enough that he’d turned up for a town council meeting for the first time in my memory. Why shouldn’t I record what he said? What is he afraid of? Is there something he wants to hide?”
Cllr Lay claims to have been “mentally abused” by Cllr Tierney and his behaviour was “unbecoming”.
Cllr Clapp said that Cllr Tierney “waited for Cllr Lay to speak and he thrust his mobile phone at him to record what he said. Councillor Samantha Hoy stated that they are allowed to record meetings”.
In his statement Cllr Tierney insisted he did not thrust his phone at anyone but “I simply held it up, as you do, when you want to record something.”
Cllr Tierney said the complaints were “an abuse of the system. No code of conduct is set up to silence political debate, to prevent robust scrutiny or to limit free speech. I strive at all times to avoid rudeness, name-calling, swearing lies and inaccuracies.”