Council leader suspended for breaching code of conduct on declarations of interest

Mark Macmillan, the Scottish Labour leader of Renfrewshire Council, admits he made a mistake by not declaring he worked for a charity in line for a council grant

Mark Macmillan
Mark Macmillan

A Scottish council leader has been suspended from attending meetings of a council board he sits on after failing to declare that he worked for a young people’s charity to which the board was considering giving a £25,000 grant.

A hearing of the Standards Commission for Scotland, which enforces the Scottish Code of Conduct for Councillors, last week concluded that Mark Macmillan, the leader of Renfrewshire Council, controlled by the Scottish Labour Party, breached the councillors code of conduct on declarations of interest.

On 20 March 2013, the commission heard, Macmillan took part in a discussion at the council's economy and jobs policy board about a proposal to give £25,000 for a pilot project to the young people’s charity KibbleWorks, where he works in the fundraising, media and communications department, without declaring his interest.

The funding proposal, which was for a project to provide training and development for young people in the area, was not voted on at this meeting, but was later approved and the project has since been completed.

Macmillan said he raised the issue "minutes after" the initial meeting, and then "publicly apologised for the error at the next council meeting".

The Standards Commission concluded that Macmillan should have declared his interest in the charity during the meeting.

In a statement, the Standards Commission hearing panel said: "The general public has a right to expect due diligence from its councillors when it comes to checking the content of council meeting papers."

Macmillan's entitlement to attend meetings of the economy and jobs policy board was suspended for four weeks with effect from 6 March, meaning he will miss one meeting.

Macmillan said: "Throughout this investigation I have cooperated fully. I accept the decision of the Standards Commission and welcome its recognition that my action was not wilful, nor deliberate. I made a mistake, but it was an honest mistake and that was borne out in every aspect of the hearing’s decision."

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