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Lord Mayor hearing held in private again
CITY councillors have again voted to ban the public from a disciplinary meeting about Oxford’s Lord Mayor Alan Armitage.
The council’s standards committee is meeting at the Town Hall this morning to rule on whether or not Mr Armitage has broken the councillors’ code of conduct.
The Liberal Democrat councillor for North ward has been accused of making inappropriate comments to a teenage girl at an event in Iffley Road last June.
The Oxford Mail and the public were excluded from a previous standards committee hearing on the case last month on the basis that the schoolgirl and other witnesses could be identified, and that it was not in the public interest.
Following advice from Jeremy Thomas, the council’s head of law and governance, committee members agreed that today’s hearing should be held in private.
The committee took the decision to exclude press and public after Mr Thomas advised councillors that he wanted to protect the privacy of individuals giving evidence to today’s hearing.
He added that the public interest would be protected by the publication of a report at the end of the hearing which would be “appropriately redacted”.
The Oxford Mail was given the opportunity to argue that it should be allowed to attend the hearing as the matter was so serious the committee's deliberations should be made in public rather than in secret.
Six councillors voted that the hearing should be held in private and there was one abstention.
The hearing is continuing.