An independently-chaired Standards Panel hearing was held on Monday 21 September 2020 about a comment posted on Councillor Robert Nemeth’s Facebook page in March 2019.
The complaint was made by Councillor Daniel Yates, who considered the Facebook comment a breach of the Code of Conduct for Members, which forms part of Brighton & Hove City Council's Constitution.
The panel found that, through his comment on Facebook on or about 7 March 2019, Councillor Nemeth:
- failed to comply with paragraph 1.2 of the council’s Code of Conduct for Members (Members must not conduct themselves in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing their office or authority into disrepute)
The panel also found that through his conduct during the investigative process Councillor Nemeth:
- failed to comply with paragraph 1.8 of the council’s Code of Conduct for Members (Members must not refuse or fail to: i) co-operate with council investigations of any description, including those into alleged breaches of this Code; and/or ii) provide full access to all material that, in the view of the investigating officer, may be relevant to such an investigation)
The Panel considered the range of sanctions available to it and determined the following in respect of both breaches of the Code of Conduct:
- that Councillor Nemeth is requested to discuss with the Conservative Group Leader, who will be contacted separately by the Panel, Councillor Nemeth’s choice of language and the impact of it when publishing his views on social media, with the aim of avoiding further breaches of the Code where the authority may be brought into disrepute
- that Councillor Nemeth is requested to work with the Conservative Group Leader to assist Councillor Nemeth to understand and reflect on the importance of ongoing co-operation with the Standards Investigation process, not least to reduce the cost to the Council of managing and conducting these proceedings and also to ensure public confidence in the process is not undermined
Membership of the panel was as follows:
Helen Aston (independent chair); Councillor Leo Littman (Green); Councillor Les Hamilton (Labour); Councillor Samer Bagaeen (Conservative).