Councillor cleared in police authority probe

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A COUNCILLOR has been cleared by a police authority over an alleged breach of its code of conduct.

Coun Dennis Southwell, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Gilesgate and a member of Durham Police Authority, was cleared by a standards committee after an incident involving his pet dog.

The panel heard evidence over allegations that he had attempted to use his position to influence Durham police to ensure that an allegation made by him was investigated and to secure the arrest and detention of a member of the public on suspicion of witness intimidation.

Although the panel concluded there was no breach of the code of conduct, it found the councillor did attempt to use his position as a member of the police authority to influence the investigation.

Peter Thompson, chairman of the police authority, said: “Complaints were received that Coun Southwell had used his position as a police authority member to get the police to take certain actions in the case.

“The Authority’s Standards Committee subsequently decided that, in the interests of transparency, there should be a full open hearing of the complaints, so that both the complainant and Councillor Southwell would have the opportunity of putting forward their version of events.”