Last night we had a training workshop on ethical behaviour. It was quite well attended and it was good that the lay members of the Standards Committee were there as well, though, considering that the Code of Conduct covers all who hold office under the Council, it would have been good to see more advisory members of Panels there.
The most entertaining part revolved around the question ethical standards and when thay apply and of 'personal' and 'prejudicial' interest.
It seems it was OK for Mayor Livingstone to indulge in anti-semitic remarks ('Hate Crime'?) when walking home tired and emotional after a function, because he wasn't acting in an official capacity at the time. Presumably the immigration 'judge' who employed an illegal immigrant as a cleaner (and was consoled by her other attributes) will be able to plead the same defence if anyone questions his fitness for his office.
The other fascinating discussion ranged around interest, especially in planning. One must enter a meeting with an open mind. If a firm you work for or have dealings with, or an organisation you belong to, has a planning application in you should declare a personal and prejudicial interest and leave the room. Fair enough. But what if a rival firm or organisation has an application in, the granting of which would/could give them a competitive advantage over yours, surely you would have a prejudicial interest in refusing the application. Apparently not.
We are told that the government is, like Fagin in 'Oliver' 'reviewing the situation'. So it should, and soon, because, although the intention behind the original legislation was undoubtedly good, there would appear to be glaring anomalies created by their failure to think it through properly in the first place.
Now where have I heard that before?