Sherborne Councillor Marjorie Snowden labels code of conduct 'not fit for purpose' after Muslim comment
A SHERBORNE councillor who was found guilty of breaching the code of conduct by making offensive comments has branded the regulations “not fit for purpose”.
Former mayor Marjorie Snowden, a town and district councillor, was found guilty of a breach by West Dorset District Council’s standards committee last Wednesday.
According to a report, Mrs Snowden was accused of describing “all Muslims as terrorists” and making derogatory comments about homosexuals and the importance of black history.
The panel ordered her to take training of the code of conduct within 28 days, provide a written apology to the complainant and be “censured on her behaviour” after unanimously deciding she had failed to show a former council officer respect during the training session in June.
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Mrs Snowden, a district councillor for more than ten years and twice mayor of Sherborne, had previously branded the training a “waste of taxpayers’ money”.
Last week the Western Gazette revealed two complainants had accused Mrs Snowden of bullying and offensive behaviour and voicing “Islamophobic” comments “bordering on religious hatred”.
But in a press statement on Tuesday Mrs Snowden, who did not attend the hearing, refuted all allegations.
She said: “They are all malicious and made by the Liberal Democrats exploiting a flaw in the regulations of the standards board code.
“I and many others recognise that the code is not fit for purpose and understand that it is going to be reviewed in the near future.
“This is part of the Liberal Democrat dirty tricks campaign which has been going on for years and will be accelerated in the next two months.”
Complainants Sue Bickle, a community development team leader and lead officer for equalities at the time of the complaint, and Molly Rennie, a district councillor for Dorchester, gave evidence at the hearing alongside Jane Nicklen, head of community planning and development, and Weymouth and Portland Borough councillor Kate Wheller.
Chairman Peter Shorland, district councillor for Sherborne west, said the panel found Mrs Snowden’s behaviour to be “out of order”.
Investigating officer Roger Greene recommended a breach relating to lack of respect but told the committee he did not believe the evidence supported claims she discriminated against Muslims.
At the hearing he said: “Apart from an initial interview Mrs Snowden has not responded to any letters or e-mails from me regarding the hearing and the complaints.”
Mrs Rennie said it was disrespectful that Mrs Snowden did not attend.
Mr Shorland said: “I understand she was terrified.”
Mrs Rennie added: “This is not easy for any of us.”
Reports in the national press at the weekend suggested Mrs Snowden is said to have “refused” to apologise.