Standards complaints lodged against district councillor Steve Albon “not upheld”

Three complaints were made about Cllr Albon's register of interests

Complaints to Thanet council’s Standards Committee lodged against district councillor Steve Albon have not been upheld.

Resident Ian Driver complained that Cllr Albon failed to complete his Register of Interests form to include mention of a settlement agreement which related to his former employment status with the council.

He complained that in addition he failed to complete his Register of Interests form to include mention of a settlement agreement which related to his spouse’s former employment status with the council and that he failed to disclose his and his spouse’s conflict of interest in matters revolving around former Chief Executive Officer Madeline Homer, whilst sitting as a member of the Council’s General Purposes Committee and the General Purposes Investigations and Disciplinary Sub-Committee.

Councillors must register their interests with local authorities after being elected, including the relevant interests of their spouses.

This includes financial interests, occupation, property ownership, shares and directorships, and contracts – especially contracts involving the local authority itself.

On issues relating to their interests, councillors are usually not allowed to vote.

Initially members of the Standards committee reviewed the complaints, local assessment procedure and the councillors’ code of conduct.

It was unanimously decided that the matter be referred to the police to investigate, and TDC appointed an independent investigating officer to examine the matter further.

The police took no action in relation to this matter and have closed this case.

A notice of the final decision says: “This complaint was referred to an independent investigator, John Austin, who completed a full and detailed investigation which is set out in a report in January 2024. The report concluded that  Councillor Albon had not breached the Councillors Code of Conduct in any of the ways complained of.

“Members of the sub-committee carefully considered the detailed report and agreed with the report’s findings.

“This is because in law a NDA is not a disclosable pecuniary interest. The report also concluded that there was no evidence that Councillor Albon argued in favour of the settlement agreement for Ms Homer. “

The Standards Assessment Sub-Committee recommended the complaint be closed, that no further action be taken, saying: “No element of this complaint is upheld.”

24 Comments

  1. If Mr Driver wants to find any more muck he should try looking in our rivers and sea he will find plenty of poo there.

  2. Well well well. Another totally spurious complaint from the bloke who painted graffiti on the wall in Broadstairs. I could have told there was nothing in his allegations – and that would have been cheaper than all the time and fees it has cost TDC. There is a legal concept called vexatious and without merit. This sort of mudslinging fits that category!

    • If it was spurious then why did it end up in the hands of the police, after being looked at by the TDC standards committee/legal team & them unanimously deciding to refer it to them? If it was spurious it would have been rejected out of hand.

      Clearly it was a matter that wasn’t straightforward & had to be investigated by the police & somebody independent from TDC-as made clear as the legally unqualified TDC leader elected to make a public statement acting like a cheerleader for one of his own party members by declaring he had done nothing wrong/trying to influence the outcome of the investigation, the actual experts at his council kept an open mind & did the right thing.

      Many people may consider Driver a nuisance & attention seeker, but he was totally correct to question this-as shown by the fact that the experts at TDC couldn’t decide whether an offence/breach had been committed.

  3. Ian Driver was and remains a complete rear end.He billed his way into the local labour party and then proceeded to wreck it at every turn Having dealt with this appalling individual I think it is high time he moved on and found some other town to ply his miserable trade of complaining and baseless allegations.He gives DFLs a bad name.

    • Baseless allegations? The TDC standards committee & legal team couldn’t determine if Cllr Albion had breached the rules/broken the law & had to refer it to an independent expert & the police to be investigated. That is the total opposite of being baseless.

      Just because people don’t always like Driver’s showboating style-myself among them, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t raise issues that need looking at & clearly this one needed a lot of looking at-as voted on unanimously by the TDC standards committee.

    • Hang on George, shouldn’t he be put in a zoo or somewhere as there are very few old Trotskyists left?

  4. Yes unfortunately I can think of a couple of people who like to make vexatious allegations causing a lot of delays and expense and time wasting causing major problems without foundation. There should be a “what goes around comes around” the innocent party should have the right to claim cost.

    • Oh speaking for RSP? I am sure they are glad for delays as it will help with their ultimate plan for Housing on the airport site !

    • A cost for whom? The standards committee are paid to investigate these things anyway & couldn’t make a decision-so this wasn’t Driver just trying to cause trouble with a joke complaint.

      TDC do not pay for the police to investigate potential crimes. So the only cost was the independent expert & again that is unavoidable when TDC cannot make the decision themselves & likely happens for all manner of things.

      It seems the personal dislike of Ian Driver by posters here is-if you will pardon the pun, driving a narrative of he decided to put in a totally phony accusation, just to annoy TDC/carry on some vendetta.

      Clearly this is not the case-if it was then the experts at TDC who examined the claim would have said it was rubbish & that would have been that. If police & an outside expert are involved then clearly it isn’t spurious & in fact on this one people should be applauding him for raising the issue.

      Without people like him those in authority (even if not in this case) get away with abusing the system & then everybody moans about the corruption, cronyism etc. This is clearly a somewhat grey area(if it wasn’t then the TDC experts wouldn’t have referred it) that TDC should be looking at altering to avoid this happening again in the future.

  5. Well, with all that said I’d like to point out that ID’s research and challenges can often be “on the nail”.
    If we have processes for complaints it’s a bit perverse to have a go when people use them.
    If TDC thought Cllr Albon was innocent I’m sure they would have told ID that at the start. As it is TDC were obviously worried enough to want to cover their arses in the event ID was correct, even partially.
    So well done ID.

    • ‘ID’ would have made an excellent reporter for the News of the World. He pokes around, raking about in dark corners, in a desperate attempt to make some amazing exposé. Instead, as he has found out to his cost, he ends up with egg on his face.
      Not so much ‘ID’ as ‘EGO’

      • How has he ended up with egg on his face exactly? He asked questions that TDC couldn’t answer & the police were called in & an independent expert commissioned to look into it.

        Again, it seems personal dislike/hatred of an individual is clouding judgement here.

        Indeed the only person who has looked like a fool is the council leader, who pronounced his wholly unqualified verdict of no wrongdoing-even after his own qualified experts couldn’t come to a decision & the police had been involved. As said at the time it is unlikely he would have been making that embarrassing, cheerleading statement if it had been a Tory, Lib Dem etc councillor.

        • Your “qualified experts” were in fact an assessment panel of councillors and independent persons who were asked to decide if there was anything to investigate. They received legal advice that there was no clarity in case law about whether an old employment settlement agreement could be considered a live contract to provide goods and services (and thus be disclosable) and to refer the matter to the police to try to clarify that point. It is difficult for them to overrule legal advice as they are not lawyers.

          The supposed NDA in respect of Steve’s wife does not even exist. It is an invention of the complainant. I.would have thought the council, which would have been one of the parties to any such agreement, was well placed to know that and therefore had no business reporting a false allegation that it did.

          Whether the assessment panel was right to refer the matter on or not, the council was certainly wrong to publish a notice announcing that it had referred a named councillor to the police, reporting invented allegations, and with the councillor having no public right of reply under the rules.

          No councillors in any party believed Steve had done anything wrong despite the complainant writing to all TDC and RTC councillors and even phoning the leader of the TDC opposition to try to get him to exploit the situation. He declined. When the media eventually reported it, via syndicated reporter, I responded to his request for comment to try to rebalance the situation. The complainant then raised a complaint about that, which was in turn thrown out.

          I would certainly defend any councillor in the position Steve was put in regardless of party, although the issue doesn’t arise because the complainant’s malicious and dishonest focus is on on one party.

          The council knows its handling of this matter was wrong and senior officers have apologised to Steve for it.

          • 1. So there we are then-legal experts giving your council members & whoever these independent people are advice to refer it to the police. I would also ask if your still as of 2022 in-house lawyer Jennifer Phillips either wasn’t involved & if not then why not, or was, but couldn’t come to a decision on this, since she is a qualified (in 2001 according to Google) legal expert?

            2. The statement here only says an NDA is not a disclosable pecuniary interest, it doesn’t say whether there actually was one or not. Surely the police would be the best people to search for an NDA anyway-rather than a council/employees of that council, that would be potentially implicated in keeping somebody quiet for their own reasons/benefit, by having them sign one in the first place?

            3. Maybe & you were certainly wrong to then come out with a statement snjiping at Driver & declaring Cllr Albion had done nothing wrong-when the matter was being referred on to the police to investigate-as TDC had been unable to establish whether he had or not. A simple statement of the matter has been referred & we will let matters take their course would have been the obvious response.

            4. If every councillor & politician in the UK thought he had done nothing wrong isn’t remotely relevant, when the matter is unresolved by TDC & on legal advice have then referred it to the police to investigate & reach their conclusion.

            While Drivers actions in contacting so many people at TDC seems ridiculous, your comments in response actually went in the total opposite direction & declared the councillor innocent-despite your council having been unable to decide that themselves & passing it to outside authorities to look at, was not rebalancing it at all & frankly it isn’t surprising that Driver complained about it.

            5. To be fair to Driver he was attacking the council when it was Tory run for a very long time as well. Driver has also come under sometimes unwarranted attack from various local politicians/party members-one of them even making a public homophobic slur against him in the early 2010’s.

            6. Really? I would have thought that investigating complaints & then when unable to make a decision referring them outside was wholly the right thing to do & a total validation of Driver reporting the matter being a legitimate issue.

            Clearly if TDC were unable to come to a decision & then there has been a six month or so investigation, then it was not an unwarranted malicious act on his behalf-even if he does have a vendetta against TDC. Clearly this is a grey area & needs to be remedied for the future so your council standards people knows exactly where it stands, so this doesn’t happen again.

            I thought a council was supposed to be accountable, investigate matters & where needed send it outside for further investigation-exactly what was done here. Or would it be better going back to the days of unaccountable politicians like Shagpile fixing it so his mate gets a property & TDC employees don’t get protective equipment for vibrating machinery, get HAV & end up suing?

        • He owes ££££ to TDC for costs incurred in a court case; he was also found guilty of criminal damage after daubing graffiti over several buildings in Thanet.
          His blog is an undisguised attack on anyone he doesn’t like, irrespective of the merits or otherwise.
          It’s one thing to challenge authority, through the correct channels, when the occasion arises. What ID does is just unpleasant vindictiveness.

          • None of which has any relevance to this matter. If he had put in a totally spurious claim then fine-it can be chalked up to the pattern of behaviour you reference.

            However-TDC’s standards people couldn’t determine if there was wrongdoing or not & we have seen a lengthy police & outside expert both investigating the matter, before reaching their conclusions.

            Clearly Driver had legitimate concerns that have taken months to resolve-so while he may well have had a vendetta on his mind as part of it, his complaint was wholly legitimate & he should be congratulated for raising his concerns, as should any other citizen in a democracy asking questions about people we have elected as officials.

    • “GB News: how many issues have you raised about TDC?
      Since ID stopped being a Councillor, how many complaints have been upheld against the Council?

  6. Ann is no doubt referring to Jenny Dawes who while being the named person on a JR over Manston was not alone and while Ann and GB news etc might disagree about the rights and wrongs over the JR, it is being dealt with by the courts.I know some here think the people have spoken and why are unelected judges deciding the outcome of the JR, it is the way that calm, measured means are used to resolve matters. The courts are not perfect and resolution is expensive, but it is better than storming the legislature because you disagree with an outcome.
    Talking about ID, this investigation will have cost at least £10k.£10k that is a figure that has resonance here.
    It seems that some of you are seeking to find fault, when the investigators would have been painstaking in their process, because of allegations of white wash or poor governance from IDs diminishing support base.The matter was investigated and Cllr Albon has no case to answer, that’s it.If there was a scintilla of doubt, further action would follow end of.
    The reason why I have no time for ID is because I have dealings with him and each and every time it was a negative because he is an egotistical berk.Other Berks are available and maybe that is the problem in Thanet too many Berks.

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