The Broads Authority removed Mr James Knight from the Navigation Committee on 28 September 2018.
The decision follows an internal Code of Conduct complaint about repeated comments published by Mr Knight accusing staff of deliberately misleading Members. A full investigation by an independent barrister found no evidence to support Mr Knight’s serious public accusations.
The Broads Authority’s Hearings Committee carefully considered the barrister's report alongside evidence from Mr Knight and other witnesses before concluding that Mr Knight had breached the Authority's Code of Conduct. The Hearings Committee expressed the view that, although Mr Knight's actions were incompatible with his co-opted membership of the Authority's Navigation Committee, he should nevertheless be offered a final opportunity to retract his statements and apologise before recommending his removal. Mr Knight chose not to take the opportunity extended to him to draw a line under the matter leaving the Authority no alternative but to remove him.
Background note for Editors
Last summer Mr James Knight, a co-opted member of the Broads Authority’s NavigationCommittee, publicly alleged that officers of the Authority had deliberately and wilfully misled the Planning Committee. Mr Knight’s allegations were thoroughly investigated and itwas concluded that none of them had any substance. Mr Knight was asked four times to either substantiate his allegations or retract his comments. A Code of Conduct Complaint by another Member concerning the same matter was investigated by an independent barristerwho concluded that there was no evidence to support Mr Knight’s assertion and that he had breached the Authority’s Code of Conduct in respect of Leadership and Equality and Respect.
On 12 September 2018 a panel of three Broads Authority Members, advised by an independent person, considered the complaint, the report of the independent barrister and evidence from Mr Knight and other witnesses. The Panel concluded that Mr Knight hadfailed to treat others, particularly the Authority’s officers, with respect. He was given 7 days to retract his comments and apologise. When this was not forthcoming the Panel felt that, if this was not forthcoming, it would have no alternative other than to recommend to the Authority that Mr Knight be removed from the Navigation Committee.
On Friday 28 September the Broads Authority Board considered the report of the Hearings Committee and the absence of a retraction and apology. The Board decided to remove Mr Knight from the Navigation Committee with immediate effect. A replacement will be appointed from the April 2019 as part of the recruitment process for the Committee which is already underway.
The hearings had to be taken in private because of Local Government provisions for the protection of officers and legal considerations due to the unjustified accusations of malfeasance against those officers, who were not parties to the complaint.
Wednesday 3 October 2018