A PANEL has rejected a councillor’s version of events that led to his suspension from Powys County Council and found he breached its code of conduct. 

The independent Adjudication Panel for Wales has found Councillor Gary Price had brought the office of councillor and the authority into disrepute. The three member panel is currently considering if it should take any sanction against the councillor. The council’s own standards committee ruled Conservative member Gary Price had breached the authority’s code of conduct when he wrote to a former council employee and wrongly portrayed how a grievance appeal panel had dealt with her case. 

It suspended the Llandrindod North member from the council for five months in November but Cllr Price has been free to remain a member of the authority until his appeal was heard by the independent Adjudication Panel for Wales, which has been meeting this week in Llandrindod. 

Cllr  Price was a member of a three strong panel which rejected all five of the complaints the former employee, who is referred to only as Ms X, had brought against her employer.  

In a letter to Ms X Cllr Price claimed he had not agreed to a hearing, in February 2015, going ahead in her absence, disputed the panel unanimously rejected her complaints and alleged fellow councillors Kath Roberts Jones and Michael Williams had pre-judged the outcome of the hearing. 

But his claims were dismissed today by the three member independent panel. 

Panel chair Claire Jones said she and her colleagues also agreed Cllr Price had been acting in his role as a councillor when he wrote the letter, as he had obtained Ms X’s address from the grievance panel papers, and gave his views as a member of the panel. 

Ms Jones said though Cllr Price did have permission from Powys council’s monitoring officer to write the letter he "wrote in more extreme terms" than he had in an earlier email he’d written to the officer and panel members expressing dissatisfaction with the outcome of the hearing. 

Cllr Price told this morning’s hearing, at the adjudication panel’s offices in Spa Road East, Llandrindod he regretted the incident but didn’t believe he has brought his office or the authority into disrepute. 

He told today’s panel he was willing to write letters of apology to Cllrs Roberts Jones and Williams for any distress caused and said:  "I  honestly do not believe I’ve brought the office of councillor into disrepute. I’m an enthusiastic councillor and the first to admit any mistakes. I will put my hand up and take any sanction felt warranted." 

Katrin Shaw, representing the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, submitted the adjudication panel should find, in line with the council’s own standards committee, that Cllr Price had breached the code of conduct. 

The panel is currently considering whether Cllr Price has breached the code of conduct and if he has, what, if any, sanction it should take. Check back for updates on the panel's findings.