A Fife councillor has been suspended for harassing a couple whose country house was at the centre of a planning row.
Conservative Tony Miklinski, who stood for the Tories at the last Westminster elections, has been banned from attending two full Fife Council meetings.
It comes after the Standards Commission was asked to look into his conduct in relation to Ian and Ruth Macallan, who wanted to use their stately Carphin House at Luthrie near Cupar as a wedding venue.
A local residents’ group was involved in a long-running dispute with the Macallans, and Mr Miklinski, the councillor for Cupar, gave it advice.
However, a Standards Commission panel has now ruled Mr Miklinski made “unfounded and serious” allegations about the owners on the residents’ group’s Facebook page.
He was also found to have supplied incorrect and unverified information that had the potential to damage their business in an email to a wedding guest.
The panel found Mr Miklinski had “failed to treat the owners with courtesy and respect”, as required by the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, and concluded his behaviour – in respect of the Facebook post – “amounted to harassment”.
Mike McCormick, chairman of the Standards Commission hearing panel, said: “The requirement for councillors to behave in a respectful manner towards members of the public is an important part of the Code, as a failure to do so can undermine public confidence in the role of a councillor and in the Council itself.
“The Standards Commission considers that councillors should be able to assist their constituents and conduct themselves in a constructive, respectful and, courteous manner without resorting to being offensive or providing misleading information.
“In this case, the Respondent (Mr Miklinski) had failed to conduct himself in an appropriate manner.”
Mr Miklinski was found to be in breach of paragraph 3.2 of the Code, which requires councillors to respect their colleagues and members of the public and treat them with courtesy at all times, and also paragraph 3.6, which states that bullying or harassment is completely unacceptable and will be considered to be a breach of the Code.
A full written decision in respect of the hearing will be issued and published within 14 days.
Mr Macallan told The Courier that the whole experience had been “incredibly unpleasant”, adding that he and Mrs Macallan were “very pleased” with the outcome and the hard work done by the investigation team.
Mr Miklinski said he did not agree with the hearing’s decision and was looking forward to the detail being published in the coming days.
“It will give a much fuller description of the issues and arguments surrounding the dispute between the Macallans and the Luthrie community, and the role that I played in that,” he said.