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SALFORD COUNCIL CODE OF CONDUCT NOT BREACHED BY SMEAR COUNCILLOR GENA MERRETT
 

Star date: 8th August 2013

ASSISTANT MAYOR GENA MERRETT SMEARS AGAINST SALFORD STAR `DIDN'T BREACH CODE' SAYS, ER, SALFORD COUNCIL

Incredibly, the totally `independent' Salford Council has ruled against taking smear councillor and Assistant Mayor, Gena Merrett, to its Standards Committee. It stated that, even if Salford Star's allegations were proved true, she still wouldn't have breached its Code of Conduct.

Salford Council refused to provide any explanation, nor is there any appeal process.

Full details here…


The Salford Star didn't expect anything less from Salford City Council…

In our original request that Swinton South Councillor and Assistant Mayor, Gena Merrett be dragged to Standards Committee over her attempts to smear the Salford Star we wrote that our organisation "has absolutely no faith in Salford City Council to investigate this matter independently or properly, but would ask you to at least go through the motions of looking into this very serious matter at Standards Committee".

…And so it came to pass that, four months after the request was submitted, a three line reply was received from Salford Council, signed by Monitoring Officer Ben Dolan*, as follows…

"Further to your complaint to the City Council, I would advise that, having examined the matter in accordance with the Code of Conduct I do not consider that after the Initial Assessment Stage your complaint, if proven, would be a breach of the Code. Your complaint is therefore rejected."

The Star wrote back to Dolan… "there is absolutely no proper explanation as to why this has been rejected. Could you tell us please if any `independent' representative has seen this case and ruled on it please? And could you also tell us please how we would go about appealing this bizarre decision."

Dolan responded: "I can confirm that the complaint was the subject of consultation with an Independent Person. There is no appeal available in the procedure in relation to the decision…"

The Star asked for "an explanation as to why an Assistant Mayor deliberately smearing a community magazine on a public website is not `a breach of the Code'?"

Dolan replied: "The procedure laid down by the Code has been followed and a conclusion reached. I will not be commenting further on the matter."

So that's it? An Assistant Mayor can produce a libellous website smearing a community publication and, even if the Council agrees that the woman has lied and gone very public with her lies, it is not a breach of Salford Council's Code of Conduct?

Back in March, Gena Merrett produced an article on her official website stating that the Salford Star was a "key supporter of an extreme left-wing political party that aims to 'smash The Labour Council and the Labour Party'" and added that the "Salford Star has never been one to let the truth or accuracy get in the way of a good story that might help to support these aims"…

The Star answered her fiction in great detail with an open letter published on this site (click here to read it), whilst sending the request in to Salford Council that she be dragged to Standards Committee for breaking its Code of Conduct.

The Code very clearly states in its `Pre-amble', point 2.3…

Honesty and Integrity - Members should not place themselves in situations where their honesty and integrity may be questioned, should not behave improperly and should on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour.

And in its General Obligations (point 3.1, 5) also states…

You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or the Council into disrepute.

Salford Council's response states that, even if the Salford Star case was proven, and that Gena Merrett had, indeed, lied and smeared this publication, this wouldn't have questioned her "honesty and integrity" and she wouldn't have conducted herself "in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or the Council into disrepute".

This is absolutely staggering and incredible – and even more staggering that an `Independent Person' has agreed with the Council's decision. Who is this `Independent Person' – a sock puppet?

The Salford Star expects nothing less of Salford Council these days. After all, this is the same Salford Council that appointed out and out Labour Party supporter and former Tony Blair spin doctor, Matt Finnegan, to the `politically restricted' role as head of communications this week (click here for full article).

* Ben Dolan, as well as being `Monitoring Officer', is also Salford Council's Strategic Director for the Environment. Councillor Gena Merrett is, of course, Assistant Mayor for Housing and Environment. In effect, Ben Dolan was ruling on his own boss!!!

The stench emanating from Salford Council is getting stronger and stronger…

 

See also previous Salford Star articles…

Salford Star Goes On Strike – click here

China On The Irwell - via the Electoral Reform Society - click here


Read the full Salford Star request for Gena Merrett to be taken to Standards Committee…

The Monitoring Officer
Customer and Support Services Directorate
Town Hall, Salford

26th March 2013
Breach of Code of Conduct for Members

Dear Martin Vickers

I am writing regarding what I consider to be a breach of the Code of Conduct for Members by Salford Council's Assistant Mayor for Housing and the Environment, Councillor Gena Merrett.

On 3rd March 2013, Councillor Merrett posted a story on her website (http://genamerrett.org.uk/2013/03/03/the-salford-star-and-rent-rises-the-truth/), entitled `The Salford Star and rent rises - the truth', in which a number of untruthful allegations were made. This was confounded by libellous comments appearing on the `comments' section of her website on this article, and a follow-up article - http://genamerrett.org.uk/2013/03/04/the-salfords-stars-reply/ 

The following are examples of false allegations…

Quotes from original article posted on Councillor Merrett's website:

"As a key supporter of an extreme left-wing political party that aims to 'smash The Labour Council and the Labour Party' the Salford Star has never been one to let the truth or accuracy get in the way of a good story that might help to support these aims."

"Its story this week purporting that the Council have put up rents to inflict misery on tenants as a way of balancing the freeze on council tax was typically far from accurate."

Following the article being published, the Salford Star wrote an open letter to Councillor Merrett challenging her to prove such allegations, while disproving everything she had written – see here http://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=1717

Basically the letter stated that the Salford Star has never publicly supported any political party. Councillor Merrett was asked for evidence. None has been forthcoming.

The letter also proved, in no uncertain terms, the accuracy of the housing article she had alleged was `untrue'. Again, in a follow up article on Gena Merrett's website, she did not answer the Star's challenge to prove the article `untrue'. Instead she repeated the allegation that "Clearly the 'Salford Star' is not an 'independent community based' media or it would not be an open supporter of the left wing socialist workers' group"…

Subsequent comments left on Gena Merrett's website were clearly libellous and have not been removed…

On the first article a comment by `Joe Jones' refers to…"fictional comments repeatedly made by the editor in other guises, to try and whip people up and give the appearance that the Star represents more than a few dozen extremists who are bent on revolution and violence."

On the second article a comment by `Tracey' refers to "all the comments written on the Star website by Kingston to try and show he has some support. In fact the Star is the mouthpiec (sic) for a small group of revolutionaries who would be treated with contempt if they dared show their true colours. so they hide behind the guise of being a community newspaper."

These comments that Councillor Merrett has allowed to remain on the website are blatantly libellous towards the editor of the Salford Star, calling into question his professional integrity and the integrity of the Salford Star. If the community group had any money, Councillor Merrett would be taken to court and sued for libel. Unfortunately, the group hasn't got any funds and cannot do this.

While the Salford Star expects no favours from Salford Council and its representatives, we do expect them to adhere to some kind of honesty, rather than smears and false allegations.

When Salford Council officers themselves examined the Salford Star's content, during a separate inquiry into devolved community funding, they found absolutely no evidence that the Salford Star was anything but politically independent.

Whether Salford Council likes it or not, the Salford Star has won three awards for the standard of its journalism, been invited to contribute to a Government Select Committee examining the media, and been commissioned to write articles and papers about community media in some of the most prestigious media publications in the country.

May I remind you of the Pre-amble to the Code of Conduct for Members…

2.3 Honesty and Integrity - Members should not place themselves in situations where their honesty and integrity may be questioned, should not behave improperly and should on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour.

2.8 Respect for Others - Members should promote equality by not discriminating unlawfully against any person, and by treating people with respect…

2.9 Duty to Uphold the Law - Members should uphold the law and, on all occasions, act in accordance with the trust that the public is entitled to place in them.

May I remind you of the actual Code of Conduct for Members…

General obligations

3.1 You must not:

 (d)  do anything which compromises or is likely to compromise the impartiality of those who work for, or on behalf of, the Council.

You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or the Council into disrepute.

I believe that, firstly, in writing the article for her website and, secondly, posting libellous comments on that site, Councillor Gena Merrett has broken that Code of Conduct. 

One possible defence that Councillor Merrett might provide is that she was not performing duties for Salford Council at the time (the so-called `Ken Livingstone defence') but the title of her website… Gena Merrett: Labour and Co-operative Councillor for Swinton South… would suggest otherwise.

I must also add that the Salford Star has absolutely no faith in Salford City Council to investigate this matter independently or properly, but would ask you to at least go through the motions of looking into this very serious matter at Standards Committee.
If you need any further information please contact me.

Regards
Stephen Kingston
Editor, Salford Star

Peter McHale wrote
at 06:24:16 on 21 August 2013
What you all so forgot to include in the letter is this - 1.3 No Member or Officer of Salford City Council will participate in any stage of the arrangements if he or she has, or may have, any conflict of interest in the matter. As Ben Dolan is the Ben Dolan `Monitoring Officer' and also the Strategic Director for the Environment and this so called Councillor Gena Merrett is Assistant Mayor for Housing and Environment, that in my eyes is conflict of interest as stated in 1.3 of Appendix 2 of the code of conduct for councilors. Have you thought about complaining to the local government ombudsman?? and another thing they can't ignore request for FOI as you can write to the information commissioners office and they will help you get the information you are requesting
 
White wrote
at 14:13:54 on 13 August 2013
This is only what we have come to expect from the People's Democratic Republic of Salford. Remembering, of course, that anything named as ‘democratic’ definitely isn’t and if called ‘peoples’, they are the last ones to be taken into account.
 
jack wrote
at 17:47:41 on 11 August 2013
yes good old democracy, the illusion of having choice, it's a big club and you ain't in it...
 
Prisoner Irlam wrote
at 15:01:50 on 11 August 2013
My Grandad always Said that Salford innercabinet had the makings of a Moronic club with more questions than answers , the biggest blag shop of the highest order.
 
mary ferrer wrote
at 07:37:19 on 10 August 2013
Until we get some form of opposition in this city things like this will happen again and again. I am so glad we have Stephen and the Star to highlight the issues, because if we didn't have the Star,all these crimes against the people of Salford would be swept under the carpet.They are treating us all like mushrooms "In the dark and covered in crap"
 
bob wrote
at 11:14:55 on 09 August 2013
Would this not be a case for the local government ombudsman to investigate?
 
Harold Smithston wrote
at 21:37:45 on 08 August 2013
It's a bit like your average armed robber being accused of doing a blag and then the police telling him to investigate himself to see if any crime has been committed. Yep bit of a fooking joke really isn't it. Until we get a truly "INDEPENDANT" person scruitiniseing the dictators in this city then unfortunately the despots will rule.............. ALL HAIL KIM JONG STEWART.
 
Salfordresident wrote
at 16:32:44 on 08 August 2013
If I hadn't read the article I would have thought you were talking about Children's services for one moment. Margaret Tunnacliffe, are you also talking about Children's Services as your statement sounds true to the bone. * Never admit they are WRONG * They like to think they are doing their best (well ticking the right boxes that is for their self determination) SalfordStar, Keep up the good work bringing these people/things to account.
 
jeb wrote
at 15:12:56 on 08 August 2013
Did anyone really expect any positive response from the Clown Hall Despots ? What despicable and pathetic mobsters they are .
 
margaret tunnacliffe wrote
at 13:01:02 on 08 August 2013
Getting Salford Councillor's to do anything that's right let alone getting them to admit they were wrong will never happen. They like to think they are doing their best for the people of Salford when all they are doing is making things worse with all the cost cutting and you will only know what they are up to by the Salford Star,who print the truth cause no one else will and that's why Salford Councillor's don't like Salford Star. Salford Star we like you so keep on doing what your doing.
 
joe oneill wrote
at 12:55:18 on 08 August 2013
Steve take a look at the remarks made over members of the Green Party by Cllr Balkind i along with my ex chairman Mary Ferrer and Mike moulding all complained the result the same,Salford Labour resemble a one party state there is no opposition and therefore no course to make any reasonable case for retraction or apology,but i say again sadly we the voting public in Salford have allowed it to happen so do we deserve any better than what we get Salford Green Party
 
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