Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Tories in disarray after Pickles' throws his weight behind Green councillor in free speech row

Today sees the latest installment in the saga of Brighton Council vs Green Councillor Jason Kitcat: his appeal against suspension for posting a video clip of a council meting on YouTube will be heard at the Hilton Metropole Hotel.

The swanky seafront venue will play host to the hearing - with the tab picked up by you, the taxpayer - even though I haven't been able to find a single person who thinks either the original complaint, the conclusion of the council's standards hearing, or the logic of suspending a democratically-elected councillor in a politically-hung council on the say-so of members of other parties was either just, sensible, democratic, or a good use of council officers' time or public money (and remember, were talking thousands here).

Jason was found to be in breach of the code of conduct after posting a clip from an official council meeting webcast onto YouTube.

Following an official complaint lodged by a Tory councillor (Ted Kemble), he was found to be in breach of the council's code of conduct by a Labour Councillor (Jeane Lepper) who admitted during the hearing that she hadn't actually seen the clip in question, and a Lib-Dem councillor (David Watkins) who appeared to some to be asleep during the hearing.

He was suspended from the council for six months but appealed against the ruling: hence the case that will be heard today, which the Standards Board for England has organised.

The council, and the Standards Board, are seeking to uphold the original ruling, despite the costs to the public purse of pursuing the case.

But Jason won over an unlikely ally last week in the shape of Tory Minister Eric Pickles.

Speaking in the House of Commons, of all places, he said: "I say to Councillor Kitcat: YouTube if you want to!"

The Hove Tories must be hopping mad.

With Pickles' weight behind him, how can Jason fail to have all the charges dropped.

I'll let you know the outcome when I can.


  1. "is" -> "if you want to"

    The whole thing seems crazy, hope today is the end of it...

  2. Thanks Anthony - I agree, and hope so too. Whatever happens, I hope the costs to the public purse are published.