THE Mayor of Middlesbrough, Ray Mallon, brought his office into disrepute in the way he dealt with issues relating to the town's taxis, a watchdog has ruled.
The Standards Board for England found Mallon made three breaches of its code of conduct after investigating complaints over how the mayor handled a row over the borough’s trade.
But the board has ruled he should not face sanctions.
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It cleared Mr Mallon over secretly-recorded conversations with Boro Cars boss Mohammed Bashir, in which the mayor made an insulting reference regarding the sex life of a female council official.
That is because the Standards Board concluded he was acting as a private individual at the time he made the comments.
However, the Standards Board found that he had brought his office or authority into disrepute and failed to declare a personal interest when required to do so on two separate occasions.
But the watchdog dismissed complaints that he failed to treat others with respect, compromised the impartiality of council officers and used his position improperly to confer an advantage.
A report found the relationship between Mr Mallon and Mr Bashir had been that of a “close associate”.
It was at Mr Bashir’s request that the mayor became personally involved in matters relating to the borough’s taxi trade - particularly in trying to resolve a row between Boro Cars and the local hackney carriage trade over access to Morrisons at Berwick Hills.
The report states Mr Mallon’s involvement gave Mr Bashir access to senior officers he might not otherwise have had without that “close association”.
There was no evidence to suggest Mr Mallon tried to influence officers into making a particular decision or favour one side over another during the period.
The Standards Board found the mayor breached the Code when he failed to declare an interest in the taxi trade during two Executive meetings.
But the report states he was “consistently open” in referencing his association with Mr Bashir in the first - and that the “sheer chaos” surrounding the second made it understandable he did not do so.
Full story in tomorrow's The Northern Echo