A former leader of Devon CC has been censured for ‘sustained and repeated’ sexual harassment of female members of staff.
The council's standards committee publicly censured Cllr Brian Greenslade following a formal complaint from chief executive Phil Norrey regarding the alleged sexual harassment and abuse of a number of female employees.
An independent investigation, which involved face-to-face interviews with members of staff and Cllr Greenslade, was then undertaken by QC Tim Straker.
A notice of censure accused Cllr Greenslade of ‘serious and significant’ breaches of the council’s members’ code of conduct.
It read: ‘The sustained and repeated sexual harassment of female members of staff and abuse of his position as a senior and established member of the council over a prolonged period fell well short of the conduct that can reasonably be expected of an elected member.’
The committee also called on the leader of the Lib Dem group on the council to remove Cllr Greenslade from all committees, sub-committees and outside bodies.
His access to council buildings will also be restricted.
Chair of the standards committee, Cllr Caroline Chugg, said: ‘This is not a decision that we came to lightly but the weight of evidence was such that we could reach no other conclusion than to find Cllr Greenslade in clear breach of our code of conduct.
‘On receiving a serious complaint of sexual harassment and abuse involving a number of female employees over several years we ordered an independent investigation.
‘I am sad to say that this investigation revealed a clear pattern of behaviour by Cllr Greenslade that can only be described as highly inappropriate and likely to cause offence and distress.
‘As a senior politician this was a clear abuse of his position with conduct that falls far short of that expected of those in public office.
‘All of us in public life have an absolute and unshakeable duty to ensure our staff can go about their important work for the people of Devon free from harassment and abuse.’
Mr Norrey added: ‘As a council, we take our duty to provide a safe workplace free from all forms of harassment very seriously, and have always promoted and championed the highest standards of personal conduct both from our staff and elected members.
‘We have clear policies and guidelines on what is and what is not acceptable behaviour and robust procedures for ensuring all complaints involving such behaviour are dealt with thoroughly and fairly.’