Statement regarding the conduct of Councillor Gardiner
The Forest of Dean District Council wishes to formally record the following overturned decision and apology in respect of Cllr Gardiner:
In September 2014, Councillor Gardiner was referred to Gloucestershire Police regarding alleged 1) criminal damage, 2) offences to European Protected Species and 3) offences to licensed works to Cinderford Northern Quarter, and to the Council Standards Committee on 14 October 2014, essentially for the same complaints 1) 2) & 3).
Prior to the completion of the Police inquiry, the FODD Council used the test of balance of probabilities to find that Cllr Gardiner had been in breach of the code of conduct by failing to uphold the law and bringing the council into disrepute.
As a result of the investigation, the Council is able to confirm that it is satisfied that at no time was Cllr Gardiner involved in the alleged criminal offences or handled any newts or other protected species or their habitats. This was borne out by the decision of the Police who found Cllr Gardiner not to be in breach of any legislation associated with the charges. In light of the police decision, the decision of the Standards Committee that Cllr Gardiner failed to uphold the law in relation to these offences is now considered to be incorrect and therefore the decision has been overturned by the Monitoring Officer.
This statement wholly exonerates Cllr Gardiner in relation to the alleged criminal offences and handling and interfering with protected species and their habitats and all associated allegations. The Council is happy to apologise to Cllr Gardiner for the considerable distress that the decisions caused him and his family.
The Standards Committee also exonerated Cllr Gardiner of all recent allegations during its meeting on 27 June 2017.
This statement is supported by the Leader and the Cabinet who wish to add the following statement: "Cllr Gardiner’s conduct has in our view always been exemplary and we therefore very much welcome this statement."
3 August 2017