A TOWN mayor accused of being drunk during a Remembrance Sunday event is set to be investigated.

Ferryhill town mayor, Councillor David Farry, called claims he was drunk at a special beacon lighting ceremony to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War “ridiculous”.

However, following three complaints, Durham County Council has confirmed it will now hold an official investigation into the allegations.

A decision notice from the council’s governance solicitor, Kamila Coulson-Patel, said she considered complaints from Angela Devine, Simone Devine and Brian Gibson concerning the alleged conduct of Councillor Farry at the event on November 11, 2018.

In her complaint, Mrs Angela Devine, accuses Cllr Farry of being under the influence of alcohol at the event and of showing "no respect throughout the service" as well as failing to fulfil the mayoral duties that were detailed in the order of service.

Ms Simone Devine alleges that Cllr Farry displayed "appalling behaviour" and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol while Mr Gibson, who accepts he was not present, said he reported complaints made to him which included Cllr Farry arriving late and "incapable of talking properly because of excessive drinking".

The decision noticed said: "The staff who were in attendance deemed it too dangerous to ask the Member [Cllr Farry] to light the beacon and instead this was carried out by an officer. Mr. Gibson finds the conduct totally unacceptable, that the Member showed a total lack of respect, shamed the people of Ferryhill and brought the Town Council into disrepute."

The decision notice stated potential breaches of Ferryhill's code of conduct included failing to behave in a respectful manner and bringing the council into disrepute.

Ms Coulson-Patel said she decided an investigation was required for several reasons and said she was satisfied the complaints were not "vexatious".

She said Cllr Farry had also offered up his own evidence although the order of service shows he was expected to light the beacon in his official role as mayor - something he denies.

She stated: "The Member has provided a copy of the order of service in support of the denial of the allegations against him, specifically that he was not required to attend in his official capacity. The documentation provided does not show this, the order of service shows the mayor or mayors representative to light the beacon. To the public it would be expected that this duty would have been carried out by the mayor or mayors representative. It is accepted by the member that he did not carry out the duty, he states that he was not in attendance in his official capacity.

"It is also accepted by the member that he attended at 6.50pm. The member denies all of the allegations, including that he was intoxicated at the event. The member denies that he attended in the capacity of member stating that he attended as a member of the public to watch the lighting of the beacon service.

"The member himself acknowledges that had he, in the capacity of mayor, turned up late without wearing the chain of office, that this would be disrespectful. The member accepts that he attended without his chain of office.

"The information provided as part of the complaint is at odds with the representations of the member, of the complainants it was their understanding that the mayor was attending as the mayor and representative of the town council. When asked if he had the chain of office it is reported that he said he had left this in the car."

She added: "The investigation will seek to confirm the arrangements in place for the service and the capacity of the member when attending the service. Furthermore, the investigation consider the accounts of others present at the service to see if accounts of what happened can be verified."