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Councillor watched porn on authority laptop

News story

News story

AN INDEPENDENT councillor has been found guilty of watching porn and offensive material online using his council computer.

A cross-party standards committee at Wigan Council unanimously found Coun Robert Bleakley, who represents Tyldesley ward, had breached the local authority’s code of conduct.

The hearing heard Coun Bleakley, who did not attend the hearing and was represented by former councillor Peter Franzen, regularly accessed pornographic websites on his Wigan Council IT equipment.

The committee removed his access to the internet via the council’s provider and ordered him to undergo coaching to address his behaviour.

Coun Terry Halliwell, whose portfolio covers standards issues, said: “I’m pleased with the panel’s decision; there is no doubt in my mind that Coun Bleakley’s actions constitute a breach of the code.

“This is the second hearing against Coun Bleakley this year and just one of many complaints lodged against him because of his behaviour.

“Most people would have learnt their lesson by now, but not Coun Bleakley. Instead he decided to use his council-provided computer, given to him to contact his constituents, to view sordid material at the cost of local taxpayers.

“I hope this latest scandal encourages him to sort out his behaviour once and for all.”

The panel, made up of elected representatives Coun Charles Rigby, Coun Jim Ellis and Coun Jeanette Prescott, decided the hearing could proceed in Coun Bleakley’s absence.

After hearing the evidence the committee decided he had breached two paragraphs of the council members’ Code of Conduct which mean councillors must not indulge in conduct which could bring their office or the authority into disrepute and requires members to use resources “in accordance with the council’s reasonable requirements”.

However, Coun Bleakley issued a strongly-worded riposte following the hearing and said he would refuse to undertake any training and could not be forced into it by Wigan Council.

Coun Bleakley said: “This is nothing more than a vendetta against me and a continuation of the politically-motivated bullying and harassment of opposition councillors by certain officers and some Labour councillors.”

 
 
 

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