FENLAND: Council chief in the clear after "silly claim" dismissed by standards committee
By John Elworthy COUNCIL leader Geoff Harper has been cleared of any wrong doing following a fast track probe by Fenland District Council. An assessment sub committee of the standards committee met last Thursday in private and decided there was no case
By John Elworthy
COUNCIL leader Geoff Harper has been cleared of any wrong doing following a fast track probe by Fenland District Council.
An assessment sub committee of the standards committee met last Thursday in private and decided there was no case for their leader to answer.
The probe followed claims by fellow councillor Mark Archer that he had been offered the vice chairmanship of the council if he refused to stand against Cllr Harper in the forthcoming county council elections.
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Cllr Harper hit out today at Cllr Archer and said he was "really disappointed that a member of Fenland Council would stoop to this level".
Cllr Archer had claimed he had been made the offer of the vice chairmanship and also threatened with removal from council committees if he stood against Cllr Harper.
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However at the annual meeting of the council - which was held following publication of the claims- Cllr Archer retained both committee places.
Cllr Harper said the story of an accusation of bribery and threatening behaviour against him was "a serious matter. My accuser had reported me to the council's standards committee.
"I lodged a robust protest against this silly claim- a mere political stunt but one that could have damaged my reputation."
Cllr Harper said he had now been informed officially by the standards committee that it had dismissed the accusation.
"This attempt to smear me is reminiscent of the recent Damien Bride affair", he said, a reference to the alleged campaign planned by a Labour Party spin doctor against Tory MPs.
"If you haven't got a case, attack the character of your opponent," said Cllr Harper.
Cllr Archer, the only independent member of Fenland Council, will fight the Forty Foot county council seat held by Cllr Harper on June 4.
Full list of candidates for Forty Foot
• Archer, Mark Ian (Independent)
• Ashby, Bill (Labour)
• Baynes, Len (UKF)
• Benford, Roy (Liberal Democrat)
• Duffy, Callum Francis (UKIP)
• Harper, Geoffrey Farrar, (Conservative)