Advice on Making a Complaint against a Member

Making a complaint

Any complaint against a Member for failure to comply with the Code of Conduct and the Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members should be made in writing to the Assembly Commissioner for Standards, Room 283, Parliament Buildings, Belfast, BT4 3XX or by email to douglas.bain@niassembly.gov.uk

It is important to note that the Code of Conduct aims to cover the conduct of all Members with respect to anything Members say or do in their capacity as an elected Member of the Assembly. However, it does not, for example, cover:

  • The conduct or activities of Members in their private and family life;
  • Allegations in respect of the conduct of Ministers, where such an allegation is essentially an allegation that falls within the scope of the Ministerial Code of Conduct and where the allegation does not clearly overlap with the Minister’s conduct and duties as a Member; or
  • Conduct or comments made by Members in the Chamber when the Assembly is sitting (other than that referred to in Standing Order 70).

In making a written complaint the correspondent should –

  • state the name and postal address of the complainant;
  • name the Member who is the subject of the complaint;
  • include an allegation that a breach of the Code of Conduct has occurred;
  • state which part of the Code of Conduct the complainant alleges to have been breached;
  • be substantiated (i.e. include enough supporting evidence to establish a prima facie case that a breach of the Code of Conduct has occurred);
  • relate to alleged conduct which falls within the scope of the Code of Conduct; and
  • be made within one year from the date when the complainant ought reasonably to have made the complaint.

A complaint about a former Member is not admissible unless –

  • the complaint is made within four weeks of the former Member having ceased to be a Member; and
  • the Commissioner, having due regard to value for money considerations and the nature of the complaint, believes that it is in the public interest for the complaint to be investigated.

Processing a complaint

On receipt of the complaint the Assembly Commissioner for Standards (the Commissioner) will –

  • send an acknowledgement letter to the complainant;
  • send a letter to the Member complained of informing him/her that a complaint has been received and enclosing a copy of the complaint.
  • apply the ‘Admissibility Criteria’ (as outlined in the Complaints Procedure in the ‘Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members’) when considering the complaint and supporting information to determine whether it is admissible under the Code of Conduct and the Guide to the Rules Relating to the Conduct of Members.

The complaint will then be processed in accordance with the ‘Complaints Procedure’ as set out in the ‘Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members’.

Should you require any advice on the Complaints Procedure please contact Mr Paul Gill, Clerk of Standards, Room 254, Parliament Buildings, Belfast, BT4 3XX.  Tel: (028) 9052 0333

Email: committee.standards&privileges@niassembly.gov.uk

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