Verdict nears on councillor swear probe

Bob Brierley
Bob Brierley

A STANDARDS complaint involving a Wigan councillor who allegedly used a swear word in a town hall meeting is nearing a resolution, the council has said.

Independent representative for Hindley Green Coun Bob Brierley courted controversy last year when members accused him of using an inappropriate term to refer to a Labour councillor.

I’m not apologising for something I’ve not done

Coun Bob Brierley

The investigation into the incident is ongoing, some nine months after it occurred, but monitoring officer Linda Fisher has revealed it will be concluded soon and may not require a hearing if an informal resolution can be agreed.

Coun Brierley, who denies using the offensive term, was first asked to apologise and was handed a mayoral warning about his behaviour at the council meeting in November.

But his initial refusal to apologise led deputy leader Coun David Molyneux to refer the incident to the standards procedure with the investigation continuing throughout this year.

Speaking to the Wigan Evening Post previously, Coun Brierley said: “I’m not apologising for something I’ve not done.” He added he has his own recording of the meeting - which was also being filmed by council officers - which proves his innocence.

Ms Fisher said a backlog of complaints about councillor behaviour last year has meant some investigations are taking longer than expected to reach a conclusion.

But progress was now being made on a number of cases.

The council recently revealed the costs of investigating poor behaviour last year came to more than £110,000.

At the full council meeting in November, which was held at Leigh town hall, Coun Brierley’s comment to Labour’s Coun Stephen Murphy brought sharp intakes of breath from the chamber floor and the public gallery and he was voted not to be heard for the rest of the meeting.

Following the remark, accusations were thrown across the chamber with Coun Anita Thorpe explaining the alleged offensive term by stating: “It was about his head and another part of his anatomy.”

Coun Brierley vowed he would make his own recording available to prove his innocence, adding: “I heard him (Coun Murphy) mumbling while I was speaking and said Coun Murphy, you again’ and it’s on tape.”