Hertfordshire councillor did not breach code of conduct with phrase in meeting

An investigation has found that county councillor Morris Bright did not breach the council’s code of conduct when he used the phrase, “bent over and took it”.

Monday, 9th September 2019, 3:09 pm
Updated Monday, 9th September 2019, 4:09 pm
Hertfordshire County Council

Cllr Morris – who is also leader of Hertsmere Borough Council – used the phrase during the county council’s budget debate on February 19, in reference to the Liberal Democrats.

Liberal Democrat councillors formally complained that the phrase was “sexually and homophobia offensive”.

And the county council’s chief legal officer launched an investigation to determine whether its use breached the council’s code of conduct

The investigation report – which has just been published – finds that the words were “ill-judged” , due to their “ambiguous nature”.

But it says there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the subject matter breached the code.

And on Friday (September 13) the findings will be presented to a meeting of the county council’s standards committee.

The investigation focussed on a contribution by Cllr Bright, which said: “…it was the Liberal Democrats who were on board; they were in bed; they were doing whatever they needed to do; they bent over and took it so that they could actually have control and power and they cut funding as well.”

In the report to the committee, chief legal officer Quentin Baker said the investigator found the “intended meaning is supported by the interview and other evidence”.

And he said: “I also note the context was that of the annual council debate on its budget which is commonly one of the most politically charged debates of the year”.

However Liberal Democrat councillor Cllr Barbara Gibson – who is also MEP – says she is disappointed with the decision – and maintains that Cllr Bright should apologise.

She says: “I was disappointed with the report’s conclusions and still believe Cllr Bright should be required to apologise in the chamber, and on camera, for using language in the chamber that creates a hostile environment.

“His offence is not to me personally, but to the people of Hertfordshire.”