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Councillor to face sanctions for bullying and intimidation

A serving Middlesbrough councillor has been sanctioned after complaints of bullying and intimidation of council staff were upheld.

A meeting of Middlesbrough Council’s Standards Sub-Committee was convened on Friday, February 16, to hear two complaints against Cllr Lawton and was held in private to protect the personal and sensitive information of Council workers.

Cllr Terry Lawton, who represents the Brambles and Thorntree ward on the Council, was found to have acted in a way that adversely impacted on staff, largely in the form of a large number of emails and social media posts.

It was also found that the Councillor had acted inappropriately when sending unproven allegations via email to all councillors and some members of staff and posting allegations on social media. In doing so he failed to treat other with respect. 

Cllr Lawton also breached the social media policy through personal and derogatory comments which could expose the Council to legal and governance risks. It was determined that the totality of his behaviour had the effect of bringing the council into disrepute.

The panel recommended that Cllr Lawton should participate in mediation with officers to improve working relationships and also agreed the following sanctions:

•    Apologise to those affected by his behaviour.
•    A motion be put Council for the Councillor to receive a public censure.
•    Undergo training on the Data Protection Act.
•    Not receive confidential information issued by the Council.

Additionally the panel also identified that Cllr Lawton should comply with sanctions imposed at a previous meeting of the Standards Sub-Committee.

Cllr Lawton, who declined to be interviewed during the process, was previously before the committee in July last year. 

At that time he was found to have breached the Code of Conduct four times and as a result had his Council email access limited, had social media access via his Council computer disabled, was asked to undergo training and to apologise for his behaviour. However, no apology was ever received and no training has been undertaken by Cllr Lawton.