Redcar and Cleveland Council are refusing to release Mary Lanigan’s report

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) asked Redcar and the Cleveland Council for a copy of the report, which was produced after an investigation into Mary Lanigan and the events surrounding her was commissioned, prompting complaints from members of the public.

The LDRS, in a freedom of information motion, argued that there was a strong public interest in fully investigating the actions of a democratically elected leader and that at least a redacted version of the report, redacting the names of those not central to the proceedings, should be published meaning are required to be provided.

However, the Council rejected the request on the grounds that the publication of the report could impair the performance of its duties with regard to the behavior of Council members and that the public interest in disclosure outweighs it.

Ms Lanigan, who was reprimanded by council members for her behavior during a long-running dispute centered on the war memorial in Easington, East Cleveland, where she lives, told LDRS she believes the report should be made public.

A panel had blamed her for breaches of the council’s code of conduct that would both reduce public confidence in her ability to carry out her duties as councilwoman and negatively affect the reputation of council members in general.

It was found that she had failed to treat others with respect, that she had attempted to improperly exploit her position to gain an advantage for herself or another person, and that she had behaved in a manner that was It ran counter to the Council’s duty to promote high standards of behavior among its elected members, and doing so effectively discredited her office and the Council.

Despite calls to resign, Ms. Lanigan pressed on, seeking re-election at her Loftus congregation on May 5.

But the veteran councillor, a former male nurse who has spent the past four years leading an Independent-Liberal Democrat coalition responsible for local government, failed to secure enough votes to fill one of the three available seats and was ousted by overtaken by Labor candidate Linda White.

After her defeat, Ms Lanigan admitted she was upset and angry during the “unfortunate” events at Easington, saying she overreacted and lost her temper.

The Northern Echo: Returning Officer John Sampson announces the results from the Loftus Ward, where Council leader Mary Lanigan lost her seatElections Superintendent John Sampson announces the results of Loftus Township, where Council Chairwoman Mary Lanigan lost her seat (Image: LDR)

The council had hired a private firm, Kenyon Brabook, to conduct an inquiry into the complaints of Easington residents Lisa Miller and her neighbor Shlomit Lowe, collecting evidence from more than 20 people and also examining council documents and police interviews.

The result was an approximately 30-page report containing various findings of fact, which were reviewed by a hearing panel that met in camera, in part at the request of the Cleveland Police Department, who believed the investigator’s report contained “certain information concerned, which are not normally taken into account.” be privileged or protected from disclosure”.

Speaking to LDRS earlier this year, Ms Miller, whose husband Shaun was assaulted by Ms Lanigan’s husband Mike, leading to a conviction for the latter, claimed there was “a story on every page”.

However, the council only published a summary online along with the panel’s findings.

The council said in its FOI response that “there is clearly a strong public interest in protecting our ability as a public authority to enforce the law by ensuring that allegations of conduct by council members are investigated and decisions made in relation to them accusations can be made”.

It said: “The Council was able to have this matter investigated because individuals were willing to volunteer as witnesses with relevant information.”

“Full disclosure of the report would obviously discourage others from cooperating with Council investigations of this nature and voluntarily providing relevant information in the future.

“It would also impede the open and open sharing of information by potential witnesses without fear of such information being made public.

“If evidence presented by witnesses (both local residents and council officials) for the purposes of the investigation is made public, it could discourage potential witnesses from presenting evidence for similar investigations in the future, which would hamper the council’s ability to conduct proper investigations.” carry out and make decisions about it.” Behavior of the councillors.

“While there is also a public interest in the disclosure of information that will hold the Council to account and increase transparency in how it carries out those duties, a summary of the inquiry has already been published online and the inquiry has been considered by the Council’s Standard Hearing Panel . The issue has been publicly debated in the Parish Council and disclosure of the full report would add little to the summary without prejudice to the ability to investigate such matters in the future.”

The council had apologized to the LDRS for the delay in deciding the matter and released the result of the FOI a few days before the local elections.

Ms Lanigan’s likely successor as Council leader, Labor Group leader Alec Brown, said he had no problem with the report being made public to ensure full transparency.

He said: “The scrutiny of public officials is very much in the public interest in my view and I would be a supporter of it.” [the report] to be published.”

Cllr Brown said he wished nothing on Mary [Lanigan] any ill will and wished her a “happy retirement”.

A spokesman for the city council added: “The report contains information on a significant number of witnesses and others in addition to the city council that was the subject of the investigation.”

“The public interest in the release of the report must be carefully balanced against the need to ensure that individuals who may be potential witnesses in future investigations have the assurance that they can confidentially cooperate with internal procedures.”

“The decision not to publish the report was based on the advice of our data protection officer and takes into account the fact that the main public interest in this matter has been eliminated by the publication of the investigation results as part of the hearing panel’s decision.” Notice, which is also the subject of a formal debate and resulted in a formal vote of no confidence being passed at a public meeting of the full district council.” Redcar and Cleveland Council are refusing to release Mary Lanigan’s report

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