Broch councillor cleared by watchdog

Michael Watt
Michael Watt

Fraserburgh and District councillor Michael Watt has been cleared by a public standards watchdog.

The Public Standards Commissioner for Scotland ruled that Cllr Watt did not contravene the Councillors’ Code of Conduct in relation to an altercation which took place between the councillor and a planning applicant, Mr John Smith of Claymore Homes, last March.

It was alleged that during a meeting between the two men, Cllr Watt verbally abused Mr Smith, raised his fists and threatened him to the extent that they had to be separated by a council officer who was also present at the meeting.

The Public Standards Commissioner confirmed in an online report that Cllr Watt had indeed been acting in his capacity as a councillor during the meeting as it pertained to a planning enforcement issue.

The report states: “It was beyond doubt that an altercation took place at the site meeting between the complainant and the respondent. This was admitted by both men. There was variation in the evidence as to all the details or precise components of what occurred during that altercation.

“Whilst I found that the respondent had not sworn at the complainant, he admittedly had used insulting language towards him.”

However, the report also stated: “There were opposing views between the complainant and the respondent about who was “responsible” for causing the altercation.”

The report continued: “The conduct of both the complainant and the respondent had fallen well below the appropriate standard of behaviour to be expected of a councillor and a planning applicant while engaging in an official meeting and had not reflected at all well on both parties.”

“I found that the complainant set the tone of the meeting by being confrontational and swearing at the respondent (Cllr Watt). The complainant also threatened to continue the matter privately with the respondent afterwards.”

Councillor Watt had previously denied that any row had happened and that allegations of threatening to use karate against Mr Smith were false.

Despite attempts by the Fraserburgh Herald, Councillor Watt was unavailable for comment.