Monday, 11 August 2014

One Rule For The Rulers

A couple of weeks ago, a judge drew to conclusion a case that I have been keeping a close eye on.

For the past 18 months, the media have been pursuing the naming of two councillors who sit on Bolton Council who had failed to pay their Council Tax two years in a row.

Judge Robin Callender-Smith and two tribunal members ruled that the naming of the Labour and Conservative member would have violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which relates to the private life right to individuals.

In his judgement, Judge Callender-Smith said that releasing the information could potentially cause unnecessary and unjustified damage and distress to the individuals.

I understand and accept the need for privacy of individuals but on this occasion I believe that this is the wrong decision. Every councillor has a duty and responsibility to set a balanced budget which also includes the Council Tax precept level for the authority that they represent.

Is it wrong to expect local law makers to face the same level of public scrutiny as an average member of the public? I mean, many council tax dodgers have been outed in the courts or by councils themselves to show that Council Tax evasion will not be accepted.

I also think that this case has also left a burning question unanswered. Do the public have the right to know about the behaviour of those who hold public office and represent them?

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