RBWM Liberal Democrats held an Executive meeting on the evening of 3rd August to consider the application of Cllr Gurch Singh (St. Mary’s) to join the national party.
This meeting considered a report, prepared in strict adherence to the provisions of the Liberal Democrat constitution, which thoroughly examined all the accusations made against him by the local Conservative councillor group. It included evidence submitted by several of their members, by Cllr Singh and by members of the public, who were witnesses to some of the events.
Upon close scrutiny, many of the accusations were found to be entirely without foundation. Attached is a list of the charges that were dismissed en bloc.
Accusation #2 was the subject of the bulk of the examiner’s report. It ran to 20 pages, including evidence. The examiner presented his findings and then answered questions. Next Cllr. Singh’s representative presented his defence and answered questions. Both parties made closing statements.
After a thorough discussion and a secret ballot, the committee voted to admit Cllr. Singh to the party and, by default, the Lib Dem RBWM council group.
Understanding the level of public interest, we have published as much of the report as we can. However, we also have a duty of care to the people who contributed evidence to our investigation, and a responsibility to be compliant with all relevant data protection legislation.
That the applicant suggested to others that a former councillor should be “taken out and shot” because he failed to attend a panel meeting owing to his dementia.
A comment allegedly made during a social gathering in a pub, which, even if it were accurately remembered, had not been considered an impediment to Cllr. Singh being a Conservative candidate.
That the applicant, in visiting the Maidenhead Mosque during the 2019 local election may have been complicit in any alleged misconduct relating to this visit.
This matter had already been investigated by RBWM and the local Conservative Group. All parties agreed, on the 4 March 2020, that there was no case to answer.
That the applicant conducted an unexplained parking campaign in Belmont ward, where he has business interests.
Neither of the Liberal Democrat ward councillors considered complaining to the Monitoring Officer and when it was appropriate, Cllr. Singh declared his interest.
That the applicant has failed to explain issues relating to a planning application on one of his business premises.
The public record shows the correct declaration was made.
That the applicant has an unclear Member’s Register of Interests with respect to Disclosable Pecuniary Interests.
This is a matter for the Monitoring Officer and she has, after one revision, been satisfied the public record is correct and, at the time of our investigation, that the grounds for the private register are valid.
That the applicant submitted a spurious and deliberately malicious Code of Conduct complaint against a fellow councillor and Conservative Party member on vexatious grounds.
The complaint was not vexatious. Cllr. Singh reasonably believed he was being held to a higher standard of behaviour than other Conservative members.
We have been advised that it is impossible to sufficiently redact our report, so as to protect the identities of witnesses, whilst simultaneously leaving sufficient detail that would enable the reader to understand all the evidence considered in reaching our determination. Here, instead, is a summary of our findings on the final allegation (allegation #2), which was thoroughly investigated in a report that ran to 16 pages:
- Cllr Singh did write to the HR department of the employer of a fellow councillor expressing concerns about that councillor’s mental health.
- He did not question his fellow councillor’s ability to do his job.
- He did paraphrase some song lyrics badly, and it looked like a quote.
- The HR department thanked Cllr Singh for his email and promised support, indicating that they were already aware of the issues.
- Knowledge of Cllr Singh’s intervention would not have gone beyond a handful of people, had the councillor himself not chosen to publicise it.
- The executive committee examined the evidence, including the email sent by Cllr Singh and the reply sent by the HR department, and found that while his actions were unorthodox, they were well intended and he had not acted maliciously.
That the applicant used a racist word, in a text message, to a fellow councillor and Conservative Party member.
The racist word was used by Cllr. Singh about himself and in the context of describing what he felt to be a racially motivated act against him by another Conservative councillor.
The Executive Committee decided at its meeting on 29 June not to investigate the remaining two allegations:
Failing to declare a previous criminal conviction that is a requirement under party membership for anything that could bring the party into disrepute, as well as numerous other run-ins with the police.
Cllr. Singh made a full disclosure of his spent convictions on joining the Liberal Democrats. It is not within the remit of the Liberal Democrats to investigate an alleged breach of Conservative Party rules.
A failure to adequately explain why Cllr. Singh has three registered names, including on formal documentation. This has proven totally unfathomable.
This is standard practice within the Sikh community and to suggest otherwise indicates a lack of cultural awareness.