Comhairle SNP leader banned from speaking to officials after probe

The leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s SNP group has been told he can only raise business with a single council official, following concerns over his conduct.

Stornoway North Councillor Gordon Murray had faced a probe, along with two other council colleagues, over their behaviour towards local authority staff.

SNP group leader Gordon Murray

Council members were this week informed in a letter from Comhairle leader Roddie MacKay of the highly unusual sanctions that had been taken in light of the investigation.

The two other councillors, Barra, Vatersay and South Uist member Calum Macmillan and John Mitchell, who represents Harris and South Lochs, had agreed to acknowledge the issues raised, and as a result steps were taken to resolve them.

However, with regards to Councillor Murray, Councillor Mackay’s letter added:  “Whilst discussions continued about the process followed in gathering officer representations, there was no acknowledgement of or attempt to discuss the substance of the issues raised.

“Given the staff citations in the report to the Chief Executive referring to Councillor Murray, action was required. Accordingly, being fair and proportionate whilst bearing in mind the nature of the allegations and the clear need to support officers, a process has been put in place whereby Councillor Murray now has one single officer contact through whom he can channel all reasonable enquires.”

Comhairle chief executive Malcolm Burr advised members last October that the reports from employees over the trio’s conduct had represented an equal gender balance and came from a number of departments and ranged across nine different employee grades.

In his letter Councillor Mackay said the process “as far as the chief executive is concerned is now concluded and he wishes to thank members for the recognition, made plain at Audit and Scrutiny committee, that no officer’s concerns or issues can or should be ignored”.