'Gun threat' probe to be heard privately

TRIMLEY: A hearing into allegations that a politician threatened another with the words “If I had a gun with me, I would shoot you” appears set to take place behind closed doors.

Richard Cornwell

TRIMLEY: A hearing into allegations that a politician threatened another with the words “If I had a gun with me, I would shoot you” appears set to take place behind closed doors.

Today, parish councillor Ian Cowan - who complained about county councillor John Goodwin's alleged threat - said he was disappointed the issue had not gone to a national tribunal.

After an investigation, it was decided the matter would not be sent to the Adjudication Panel for England, which holds all its hearings in public.

“I cannot understand at all why the hearing will be in private - even I will be excluded,” said Mr Cowan.

“The incident happened in public, at a public meeting with people present, and has been reported fully in the press. It just doesn't make sense.

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“I am also disappointed that the county council will be dealing with it itself when far less serious matters, in my opinion, have been referred by authorities to the Standards Board for England.”

The county standards committee's hearings sub-committee will meet at Grafton House, Ipswich, on Thursday to decide whether Mr Goodwin breached the code of conduct which governs how councillors should behave.

It is recommended to exclude press and public under the 1972 Local Government Act.

Felixstowe county councillor Mr Goodwin is reported to have said the words “If I had a gun with me, I would shoot you” to Mr Cowan during a heated debate on housing at a meeting of Trimley St Martin Parish Council last February.

Conservative Mr Goodwin said he could not comment on the current situation because complaint proceedings were active.

Previously, he said could not remember exactly what he had said but had “lost it in the heat of the moment” and said a “somewhat stupid and unfortunate remark”.

A county council spokesman said: “The purpose of the meeting will be to determine whether or not there has been a breach of the Code of Conduct, and, if so, what sanction, if any, should be applied.

“Suffolk County Council cannot comment further while the case is on-going.”

Should the hearing be held in public? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@eveningstar.co.uk