Councillor cleared of code breach

Councillor Martin Ford
Councillor Martin Ford

An Aberdeenshire councillor has been cleared of breaching a code of conduct after referring himself to the Public Standards Commissioner.

The ruling follows an interview Green councillor Martin Ford gave at the authority’s Woodhill House headquarters in Aberdeen for a BBC production.

Mr Ford appeared in the Panorama programme last summer about Donald Trump and the Menie Estate golf development.

Questions were raised by the council’s chief executive about the interview being done on council property.

The councillor agreed to the interview request from the BBC last March. Following the broadcast of the Panorama programme in July, he said he received a series of letters from the council’s chief executive suggesting that the interview should not have taken place on council premises.

Councillor Ford then referred himself to the commissioner.

The East Garioch representative said: “Councillors have a duty to be open about what they do and answer journalists’ questions.

“It is an essential part of the democratic process. The judgement reflects and acknowledges that. I was clear from the outset that the interview was not even remotely close to being a breach of the Code of Conduct.

“I was extremely surprised by the letters I received from the council’s chief executive last summer questioning whether I should have given the interview to Panorama on council premises.

“Given the tone and content of the chief executive’s communications, after his third letter I decided to report myself to the Standards Commissioner in order to get the matter properly and impartially examined.”

Councillor Ford has been a strong critic of the Trump development at Menie.

His vote saw the US billionaire’s plans for the project initially turned down, before they were given the go-ahead by the Scottish Government.