ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Report on complaints against Mr Jim Wells MLA from Ms Carál Ní Chuilín MLA and from Ms Mary McArdle

Committee: Standards and Privileges

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Reference: NIA 71/11-15

ISBN: 978-0-339-60446-9

Mandate Report Number: Mandate 2011/2015 Third Report

Committee on Standards and Privileges

Report on complaints against
Mr Jim Wells MLA from
Ms Carál Ní Chuilín MLA and
from Ms Mary McArdle

Together with the Reports of the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards and other evidence considered by the Committee

Ordered by the Committee on Standards and Privileges to be printed on 17 October 2012
Report: NIA 71/11-15

Mandate 2011/15 Third Report

Committee Powers and Membership

1. The Committee on Standards and Privileges is a Standing Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly established in accordance with paragraph 10 of Strand One of the Belfast Agreement and under Assembly Standing Order Nos. 51 and 57.

2. The Committee has power:

  • to consider specific matters relating to privilege referred to it by the Assembly;
  • to oversee the work of the Assembly Clerk of Standards;
  • to examine the arrangement for the compilation, maintenance and accessibility of the Register of Members' Interests and any other registers of interest established by the Assembly, and to review from time to time the form and content of those registers;
  • to consider any matter relating to the conduct of Members;
  • to recommend any modifications to any Assembly code of conduct as may from time to time appear to be necessary.

3. The Committee is appointed at the start of every Assembly, and has power to send for persons, papers and records that are relevant to its enquiries.

4. The membership of the Committee is as follows:

Mr Alastair Ross (Chairperson)
Mr Kieran McCarthy (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Stephen Agnew
Mr Cathal Boylan
Ms Paula Bradley
Mr Jonathan Craig
Mr Colum Eastwood 2
Mr Fra McCann
Mr David McIlveen
Mr Francie Molloy 3,4
Mrs Sandra Overend 1

5. The Report and evidence of the Committee are published by the Stationery Office by order of the Committee. All publications of the Committee are posted on the Assembly's website: (www.niassembly.gov.uk)

6. All correspondence should be addressed to:
The Clerk to the Committee on Standards and Privileges,
Committee Office,
Northern Ireland Assembly,
Room 254,
Parliament Buildings,
Stormont,
Belfast BT4 3XX.

Tel: 02890 520333; e-mail: committee.standards&privileges@niassembly.gov.uk

1 With effect from 26 September 2011 Mrs Sandra Overend replaced Mr Michael Copeland.

2 With effect from 23 April 2012 Mr Colum Eastwood replaced Mr Patsy McGlone.

3 With effect from 3 July 2012 Mr Alex Maskey replaced Mr Pat Doherty.

4 With effect from 11 September 2012 Mr Francie Molloy replaced Mr Alex Maskey.

Table of Contents

Report

Appendix 1

Reports by the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards

(i) Report on a complaint from Ms Carál Ní Chuilín MLA

(ii) Report on a complaint from Ms Mary McArdle

Appendix 2

Other evidence considered by the Committee

(i) Correspondence dated 26 June 2012 from the Committee to Mr Jim Wells MLA

(ii) Correspondence dated 19 July 2012 from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards to the Committee

(iii) Correspondence dated 4 September 2012 from the Committee to Mr Jim Wells MLA

(iv) Correspondence dated 18 September 2012 from Mr Jim Wells MLA to the Committee

Appendix 3

Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee Relating to the Report

Report

1. The Committee on Standards and Privileges has considered two reports from Dr Tom Frawley in his former capacity as the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards (interim Commissioner). The reports are on investigations into separate complaints made by Ms Carál Ní Chuilín MLA and Ms Mary McArdle about the conduct of Mr Jim Wells MLA. The interim Commissioner's reports and each of the complaints are appended to this report.

Complaint from Ms Ní Chuilín MLA

2. Ms Ní Chuilín's complaint related to an exchange she had with Mr Wells in Parliament Buildings. In her letter of complaint to the interim Commissioner Ms Ní Chuilín alleged that at approximately 12.15pm on 8 June 2011 Mr Wells had confronted her on the West staircase in Parliament Buildings in an aggressive and threatening manner. She said that Mr Wells had pointed his finger very close to her face and told her that she would not be welcomed by the Ulster-Scots Community and that neither she nor her Special Adviser would be going to South Down. At this time Ms Ní Chuilín's Special Adviser was Ms McArdle (the other complainant). South Down is Mr Wells' constituency.

3. At a subsequent interview with the interim Commissioner on 27 March 2012 Ms Ní Chuilín said that during the exchange in question Mr Wells had said to her "You needn't think you are to bring that murderer to South Down". This was a reference to Ms McArdle. Ms Ní Chuilín described Mr Wells as having been very angry, venomous and intimidating. She said that he had pointed and wagged his finger at her and that she had found the exchange to have been completely unexpected and unsettling.

4. Mr Wells met the interim Commissioner on 21 December 2011 when he confirmed that he did have an exchange with Ms Ní Chuilín on 8 June 2011. Mr Wells said he had told Ms Ní Chuilín that he disagreed with the appointment of Ms McArdle as her Special Adviser. He considered that he had most likely made a remark along the lines of "You had better not bring her to South Down".

5. Mr Wells said he was unable to recall if he had pointed his finger at Ms Ní Chuilín during the exchange. While he believed he may have wagged his finger towards her, he had no recollection of having pointed his finger at Ms Ní Chuilín in an aggressive manner. Mr Wells said that he did not consider his demeanour to have been intimidating and that he did not believe that Ms Ní Chuilín had thought so at that time either, adding that Ms Ní Chuilín had remained quite calm during the exchange.

Complaint from Ms McArdle

6. Ms McArdle's complaint related to an exchange she had with Mr Wells in Parliament Buildings. In her letter of complaint to the interim Commissioner Ms McArdle alleged that at approximately 1.17pm on 27 June 2011 Mr Wells had passed her on the first floor corridor in Parliament Buildings and had said to her "There's the murderer herself". Ms McArdle said that Mr Wells had told her that she had murdered a young woman coming from her place of worship, that she was a disgrace and that she better not dare come to South Down.

7. Ms McArdle said that the whole exchange lasted 1 – 2 minutes and during the entire time Mr Wells wagged his finger in her face. At a subsequent interview with the interim Commissioner on 27 March 2012 Ms McArdle said that Mr Wells had "verbally assaulted her". Ms McArdle described Mr Wells as having been forceful, aggressive and intimidating during the encounter and said that she considered his conduct to be an abuse of power. She said that she did not expect anyone to be subjected to such behaviour in the workplace.

8. When Mr Wells met the interim Commissioner on 21 December 2011 he confirmed that he had had an exchange with Ms McArdle on 27 June 2011. Mr Wells said that Ms McArdle's account of the exchange in her letter of complaint was broadly correct. However, he disputed the allegation that he had called her a murderer although he did say that he had mumbled a snide remark as he had passed her. At this interview Mr Wells declined to tell the interim Commissioner what this remark was. However, in subsequent correspondence to the interim Commissioner on 9 March 2012, Mr Wells said that he had used the phrase "monster advisor".

9. Mr Wells also said at the interview on 21 December 2011 that after having been challenged by Ms McArdle on making his initial remark he had gone on to say "You murdered Mary Travers coming out of her Catholic place of worship". Mr Wells said that he may well have said to Ms McArdle that she was a disgrace and that she better not come to South Down. However, he disputed that he had used the word "dare" in this context.

10. Mr Wells told the interim Commissioner that his remarks to Ms McArdle about her not coming to South Down had not been intended as a threat but that he considered her presence would cause offence and that she would cause outrage if she were to attend certain events in the Ulster-Scots community in the constituency. Mr Wells referred to the murder of Mary Travers and said that he had made it clear to Ms McArdle that he considered what she had done had been absolutely wrong. Mr Wells said that he should not be denied the right to express his views on Ms McArdle's appointment to the Special Advisor post.

The interim Commissioner's Consideration of the Complaints

11. There is no dispute that there was an exchange between Ms Ní Chuilín and Mr Wells on 8 June 2011 and that there was a separate exchange between Ms McArdle and Mr Wells on 27 June 2011. Nor is there any dispute as to the general tenor of each of these encounters. There are, however, some specific differences between the complainants' and Mr Wells' accounts of the respective exchanges.

12. The interim Commissioner spoke to a number of Assembly ushers who would have been in the vicinity of the exchange between Ms Ní Chuilín and Mr Wells on 8 June 2011 and a number of Assembly ushers who would have been in the vicinity of the exchange between Ms McArdle and Mr Wells on 27 June 2011. However, none of these individuals were able to recall having witnessed either exchange. The interim Commissioner was therefore unable to obtain any independent evidence that corroborated either Ms Ní Chuilín's or Mr Wells' account of the exchange that had taken place between them or that corroborated either Ms McArdle's or Mr Wells' account of the exchange that had taken place between them.

13. The interim Commissioner has therefore advised the Committee that in the absence of independent evidence he has been required to examine the provisions of the Code of Conduct against the conduct that Mr Wells has acknowledged in responding to each of the complaints against him.

14. In respect of the complaint from Ms Ní Chuilín, the interim Commissioner has concluded that Mr Wells' conduct did not meet the standard that the Code of Conduct requires. The interim Commissioner has explained that in his view the manner in which Mr Wells approached Ms Ní Chuilín was contrary to a requirement to treat other Members with courtesy, consideration and respect and not to subject other individuals to unreasonable and personal attack.

15. In coming to this view the interim Commissioner was mindful of Ms Ní Chuilín's account of her perception of Mr Wells' demeanour and attitude towards her during the exchange, and of its impact on her. While the interim Commissioner accepts that Mr Wells may have had no intention of expressing his views to Ms Ní Chuilín in an aggressive or intimidating manner, and that he may consider that he did not do so, he is satisfied that Ms Ní Chuilín perceived his conduct on that occasion to be such and that she found the encounter to have been unsettling.

16. In respect of the complaint from Ms McArdle, the interim Commissioner has also concluded that Mr Wells' conduct did not meet the standard that the Code of Conduct requires. The interim Commissioner has explained that he considers that as Mr Wells made a snide remark to Ms McArdle - by referring to her as a monster advisor - and as he cautioned her in such a forceful manner against accompanying the Minister on official engagements in South Down, he did not meet a requirement to treat the staff of other Members with courtesy, consideration and respect and not to subject other individuals to unreasonable and personal attack.

Committee's Consideration of the Matter

17. Before the Committee received the interim Commissioner's reports on these complaints it arranged for Mr Wells to be provided with advance copies. Mr Wells was informed that he was entitled to provide the Committee with his own comments in respect of any matter raised in either of the reports. Mr Wells was also informed that he could choose to appear before the Committee to make his comments in person and to answer any questions that members of the Committee may have had. Mr Wells did not choose to either provide the Committee with comments in writing or to appear before the Committee.

18. The Committee considered the interim Commissioner's reports at its meetings on 4 July 2012 and 4 September 2012. At each of these meetings the interim Commissioner attended and provided an explanation to the Committee as to how he had arrived at his conclusions.

19. The Committee noted that Mr Wells had told the interim Commissioner that he should not be denied the right to express his views on Ms McArdle's appointment to the Special Adviser post. The Committee agrees with this assertion (as did the interim Commissioner). The Committee is clear that all Members should be free, within the law, to express any political opinion that they may hold and that the Assembly should not seek to prevent or limit any political opinion being expressed legally. The Committee also acknowledges that Members are entitled to express their opinions in a robust and forceful manner and that this is to be accepted in the normal cut and thrust of political life.

20. Nonetheless, Members do have a duty in respect of the manner in which they express their opinions. Beyond a certain point the forceful expression of an opinion can become unduly confrontational. Members are not entitled to be aggressive or threatening and individuals should not be subjected to unreasonable or excessive personal attack. In fact, the Code of Conduct requires, under the principle of Respect, that Members must treat other Members and the staff of other Members with courtesy and respect.

21. Having taken all of these factors into consideration, and having given careful consideration to the evidence gathered by the interim Commissioner and his judgement of the matter, the Committee has ultimately concluded that, on each of the two occasions in question, Mr Wells' conduct went beyond what is acceptable under the Code of Conduct. The Committee agrees with the interim Commissioner's conclusion that in respect of both exchanges Mr Wells failed to comply with the requirements of the Code of Conduct. Both complaints are therefore upheld.

22. The Committee wrote to Mr Wells on 4 September 2012 informing him of the Committee's decision that he had breached the Code of Conduct and telling him that he should write a letter of apology to the two complainants and that a copy of the letters of apology should be sent to the Committee for inclusion in the Committee's Report. The Committee had agreed that an appropriate apology in writing from Mr Wells to the complainants would allow it to report that the matter had been resolved and the correspondence to Mr Wells set this position out. The correspondence went on to state that should Mr Wells not provide the Committee with a copy of an appropriate written apology to each of the complainants by 18 September 2012, the Committee would have to give consideration to recommending to the Assembly that a sanction be imposed.

23. Mr Wells responded to the Committee on 18 September 2012. In his response Mr Wells stated that he could not apologise to either of the complainants and he set out his reasons for his position.

24. It is highly regrettable that Mr Wells did not apologise to the complainants. Both the interim Commissioner and the Committee had concluded that he had breached the Code of Conduct. Mr Wells should have acknowledged and accepted this outcome and apologised for his breaches. An appropriate apology from Mr Wells to the complainants would, in the Committee's view, have provided a fitting and proportionate resolution to the matter.

25. Mr Wells' decision not to apologise means the Committee has no option but to recommend that the Assembly impose a sanction upon him for his failure to comply with the Code of Conduct. Having considered the matter carefully, and having had regard to Mr Wells' failure to apologise, the Committee has agreed that Mr Wells should be suspended from proceedings of the Assembly for a period of seven days.

26. Standing Order 69B (2) provides that, in consideration of a report from the Committee on Standards and Privileges where the Committee has found that a member has failed to comply with a provision of the Code of Conduct, the Assembly may impose a sanction upon that member. Standing Order 69B (3)(c) provides for the Assembly to impose the sanction of exclusion of the member from proceedings of the Assembly for a specified period.

27. The Committee on Standards and Privileges recommends that the Assembly imposes upon Mr Wells the sanction of exclusion from proceedings of the Assembly for a period of seven days. The Committee shall bring forward a motion to this effect.

28. The Committee takes this opportunity to remind all Members of their duty to observe the principles of conduct as set out in the Assembly's Code of Conduct. These principles include the principles of Respect and Good Working Relationships. Members must treat other Members and staff with courtesy and respect.

Appendix 1

Reports from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards

Report from Tom Frawley-01.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-02.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-03.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-04.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-05.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-06.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-07.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-08.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-09.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-10.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-11.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-12.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-13.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-15.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-16.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-17.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-18.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-19.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-21.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-22.psd
Report from Tom Frawley-23.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-01.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-02.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-03.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-04.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-05.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-06.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-07.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-08.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-09.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-10.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-11.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-13.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-15_a.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-16.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-17.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-18.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-19.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-21.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-22.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-23.psd
Report from Interim Commissioner-25.psd

Appendix 2

Other evidence considered by the Committee

Correspondence dated 26 June 2012
from the Committee to Mr Jim Wells MLA

Letter to Jim Wells-1.psd
Letter to Jim Wells-2.psd

Correspondence dated 19 July 2012
from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards to the Committee

Letter from Tom Frawley-1.psd
Letter from Tom Frawley-2.psd

Correspondence dated 4 September 2012
from the Committee to Mr Jim Wells MLA

Letter 2 to Jim Wells-1.psd
Letter 2 to Jim Wells-2.psd

Correspondence dated 18 September 2012
from Mr Jim Wells MLA to the Committee

2012.09.18 - Letter from Jim Wells.psd

Appendix 3

Minutes of Proceedings
of the Committee
relating to the Report

Wednesday, 4th July 2012
Room 144, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Alastair Ross (Chairperson)
Mr Kieran McCarthy (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Steven Agnew
Mr Cathal Boylan
Ms Paula Bradley
Mr Jonathan Craig
Mr David McIlveen
Mr Alex Maskey
Mr Fra McCann
Mrs Sandra Overend

In Attendance: Mr Paul Gill (Assembly Clerk)
Ms Hilary Bogle (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Christopher McNickle (Clerical Officer)

Apologies: None.

1.34pm The meeting commenced in closed session.

5. Consideration of Reports from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards on complaints against a Member

Members noted the Clerk's paper and two reports received from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards on complaints against a Member.

1.36pm The Chairperson welcomed Dr Tom Frawley and invited him to brief the Committee on each of his reports.

1.41pm Ms Marie Anderson, Ombudsman's Office joined the meeting.

2.19pm Ms Bradley and Mr Agnew left the meeting.

2.22pm Ms Bradley returned to the meeting.

2.23pm Mr Agnew returned to the meeting.

2.25pm Following discussion the Committee thanked Dr Frawley and Ms Anderson for attending the meeting.

Following discussion on the interim Commissioner's first report, the Chairperson put the question that the Committee accepts the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards' conclusion that the Member has breached the Code of Conduct.

Ayes - Mr Alex Maskey, Mr Fra McCann, Mr Cathal Boylan, Mr Steven Agnew, Mr Kieran McCarthy

Noes - Mr Alastair Ross, Ms Paula Bradley, Mr Jonathan Craig, Mr David McIlveen, Mrs Sandra Overend

Abstention - None

As the votes were equal the motion fell.

The Chairperson then put the question that the Committee rejects the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards' conclusion that the Member has breached the Code of Conduct.

Ayes - Mr Alastair Ross, Ms Paula Bradley, Mr Jonathan Craig, Mr David McIlveen, Mrs Sandra Overend

Noes - Mr Alex Maskey, Mr Fra McCann, Mr Cathal Boylan, Mr Steven Agnew, Mr Kieran McCarthy

Abstention - None

As the votes were equal the motion fell.

Following discussion on the interim Commissioner's second report, the Chairperson put the question that the Committee accepts the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards' conclusion that the Member has breached the Code of Conduct.

Ayes - Mr Alex Maskey, Mr Fra McCann, Mr Cathal Boylan, Mr Steven Agnew, Mr Kieran McCarthy

Noes - Mr Alastair Ross, Ms Paula Bradley, Mr Jonathan Craig, Mr David McIlveen, Mrs Sandra Overend

Abstention - None

As the votes were equal the motion fell.

The Chairperson then put the question that the Committee rejects the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards' conclusion that the Member has breached the Code of Conduct.

Ayes - Mr Alastair Ross, Ms Paula Bradley, Mr Jonathan Craig, Mr David McIlveen, Mrs Sandra Overend

Noes - Mr Alex Maskey, Mr Fra McCann, Mr Cathal Boylan, Mr Steven Agnew, Mr Kieran McCarthy

Abstention - None

As the votes were equal the motion fell.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule further consideration of these complaints to a future meeting after the summer recess.

[EXTRACT]

Tuesday, 4th September 2012
Room 144, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Alastair Ross (Chairperson)
Mr Kieran McCarthy (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Steven Agnew
Mr Cathal Boylan
Ms Paula Bradley
Mr Jonathan Craig
Mr Colum Eastwood
Mr Alex Maskey
Mr Fra McCann
Mr David McIlveen

In Attendance: Mr Paul Gill (Assembly Clerk)
Mr Jonathan McMillen (Assembly Legal Adviser)
Ms Hilary Bogle (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mr Christopher McNickle (Clerical Officer)

Apology: Mrs Sandra Overend

11.05am The meeting commenced in closed session.

5 and 6. Further consideration of Reports from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards and commencement of the Northern Ireland Assembly Commissioner for Standards' Functions.

Members noted correspondence of 23 July 2012 received from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards clarifying an issue raised at a previous meeting of the Committee.

11.09am Mr McCann and Mr Eastwood joined the meeting

11.10am Mr Craig joined the meeting

11.10am The Chairperson welcomed Dr Tom Frawley, interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards and Ms Marie Anderson, Deputy Ombudsman to the meeting and invited Dr Frawley to outline the background to the two Reports and to brief the Committee on the further correspondence received from him.

Dr Frawley reminded the Committee of the key points in the two Reports and clarified the position in his correspondence of 23 July 2012.

11.22am The Chairperson thanked Dr Frawley and Ms Anderson for attending the meeting.

The Committee then discussed the reports on the complaints against a Member.

12.02pm Following discussion the Chairperson put the question that the Committee accepts the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards' conclusion that the Member named in the Commissioner's first report had breached the Code of Conduct.

Ayes - Mr Steven Agnew, Mr Cathal Boylan, Mr Colum Eastwood, Mr Alex Maskey, Mr Fra McCann, Mr Kieran McCarthy

Noes - Ms Paula Bradley, Mr Jonathan Craig, Mr David McIlveen, Mr Alastair Ross

Abstention - None

The motion was carried.

The Chairperson put the question that the Committee accepts the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards' conclusion that the Member named in the Commissioner's second report has breached the Code of Conduct.

Ayes - Mr Steven Agnew, Mr Cathal Boylan, Mr Colum Eastwood, Mr Alex Maskey, Mr Fra McCann, Mr Kieran McCarthy

Noes - Ms Paula Bradley, Mr Jonathan Craig, Mr David McIlveen, Mr Alastair Ross

Abstention - None

The motion was carried.

Following discussion Mr McIlveen proposed that the Committee should write to the Member informing him of the Committee's decision that he had breached the Code of Conduct and telling him that he should note this outcome.

Question put:

That the Committee should write to the Member informing him of the Committee's decision that he had breached the Code of Conduct and telling him that he should note this outcome.

Ayes - Ms Paula Bradley, Mr Jonathan Craig, Mr David McIlveen, Mr Alastair Ross

Noes - Mr Cathal Boylan, Mr Colum Eastwood, Mr Alex Maskey, Mr Fra McCann, Mr Kieran McCarthy

Abstention - Mr Steven Agnew

The motion fell.

Mr Maskey proposed that the Committee should write to the Member informing him of the Committee's decision that he had breached the Code of Conduct and telling him that he should apologise by means of a public statement to the Assembly.

Question put:

That the Committee should write to the Member informing him of the Committee's decision that he had breached the Code of Conduct and telling him that he should apologise by means of a public statement to the Assembly.

Ayes - Mr Cathal Boylan, Mr Colum Eastwood, Mr Alex Maskey, Mr Fra McCann

Noes - Ms Paula Bradley, Mr Jonathan Craig, Mr Kieran McCarthy, Mr David McIlveen, Mr Alastair Ross

Abstention - Mr Steven Agnew

The motion fell.

Mr McCarthy proposed that the Committee should write to the Member informing him of the Committee's decision that he had breached the Code of Conduct and telling him that he should write a letter of apology to the two complainants and a copy of the letters of apology should be sent to the Committee for inclusion in the Committee's Report.

Ayes - Mr Steven Agnew, Mr Cathal Boylan, Mr Colum Eastwood, Mr Alex Maskey, Mr Fra McCann, Mr Kieran McCarthy

Noes - Ms Paula Bradley, Mr Jonathan Craig, Mr David McIlveen, Mr Alastair Ross

Abstention - None

The motion was carried.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that should the Member not provide the Committee with a copy of an appropriate written apology to each of the complaints by 18 September 2012 the Committee would give consideration to recommending to the Assembly that a sanction be imposed.

[EXTRACT]

Wednesday, 19th September 2012
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Alastair Ross (Chairperson)
Mr Kieran McCarthy (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Steven Agnew
Mr Cathal Boylan
Ms Paula Bradley
Mr Colum Eastwood
Mr Fra McCann
Mr David McIlveen (from agenda item 6)

In Attendance: Mr Paul Gill (Assembly Clerk)
Ms Hilary Bogle (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mr Christopher McNickle (Clerical Officer)

Apologies: Mr Jonathan Craig
Mr Francie Molloy
Mrs Sandra Overend

1.30pm The meeting commenced in closed session.

6. Further consideration of two complaints against a Member

Members noted the Clerk's Paper; correspondence from the Committee to the Member; and the Member's response.

The Clerk updated the Committee on this issue.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk should provide it with further information on sanctions that have been imposed on Members elsewhere.

2.25pm Colum Eastwood and David McIlveen left the meeting.

[EXTRACT]

Wednesday, 3rd October 2012
Room 144, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Alastair Ross (Chairperson)
Mr Kieran McCarthy (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Steven Agnew
Mr Cathal Boylan
Ms Paula Bradley
Mr Jonathan Craig
Mr Colum Eastwood
Mr Fra McCann
Mr David McIlveen
Mr Francie Molloy
Mrs Sandra Overend

In Attendance: Mr Paul Gill (Assembly Clerk)
Ms Hilary Bogle (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mr Christopher McNickle (Clerical Officer)

1.30pm The meeting commenced in closed session.

5. Further consideration of two complaints against a Member

Members noted the Clerk's Paper and the Assembly Research Paper.

1.40pm Mr Eastwood joined the meeting

The Clerk updated the Committee on this issue.

Following discussion Mr Boylan proposed that the Committee recommend to the Assembly that it impose upon the Member the sanction of exclusion from proceedings of the Assembly for a period of seven days.

The Chairperson put the question that the Committee recommend to the Assembly that it impose upon the Member the sanction of exclusion from proceedings of the Assembly for a period of seven days.

Ayes - Mr Steven Agnew, Mr Cathal Boylan, Mr Colum Eastwood, Mr Fra McCann, Mr Kieran McCarthy, Mr Francie Molloy

Noes - Ms Paula Bradley, Mr Jonathan Craig, Mr David McIlveen, Mr Alastair Ross, Mrs Sandra Overend

Abstention - None

The motion was carried.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk should draft a report for consideration by the Committee at its next meeting.

1.50pm Mr Eastwood left the meeting

[EXTRACT]

Wednesday, 17th October 2012
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Alastair Ross (Chairperson)
Mr Kieran McCarthy (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Steven Agnew
Ms Paula Bradley
Mr Francie Molloy
Mrs Sandra Overend

In Attendance: Mr Paul Gill (Assembly Clerk)
Ms Hilary Bogle (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mr Christopher McNickle (Clerical Officer)

1.31pm The meeting commenced in closed session.

5. Draft Committee Report on two complaints against a Member

Agreed: Members discussed and agreed the draft Committee Report and ordered that the report be printed.

Agreed: Members agreed that the Deputy Chairperson should sign a motion on behalf of the Committee.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Committee's report should be embargoed until the commencement of the debate.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the two complainants and the Member complained of informing them of the Committee's decision and forwarding a copy of the Committee's embargoed Report.

[EXTRACT]

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