THE public have been barred from hearing details of allegations made against a serving county councillor.

David Boyes, who represents Durham County Council’s Easington ward, appeared before the local authority’s Standards Committee on Monday, December 14 following complaints related to a social media post.

But it was ruled that the hearing would take place behind closed doors, after concerns were raised about some of the ‘personal information’ expected to be revealed.

Addressing the hearing panel, Cllr Boyes said: “I will be bringing up stuff about my family and my mental health and wellbeing, including my late father, which I don’t really want to get out in the public domain, if at all possible.”

He added: “I would prefer that my statement was not made in public.

“I will be mentioning my late father, who was a well-respected MP in the area.”

As well as mentioning his late father, Roland Boyes the former Labour MP for Houghton and Washington, he said he will also mention members of his family and said: “I don’t want this to be made in public.”

Representations from Dermot Feenan, who made the complaint against Cllr Boyes, were read to the committee, calling for proceedings to be held in public on the grounds of articles six and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protect the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression.

A similar statement was submitted by the Friends, Families and Travellers charity.

But lawyer Stephen Pearson, of Freeths LLP, who investigated on behalf of the council, argued the public should be banned from observing the debate or hearing any evidence.

He said: “Cllr Boyes has been subject to some personal issues related to the complaint, including his relationship, for example, with the Labour Party, I understand.

“That strikes me as information of a personal nature and which inevitably will suffuse his evidence and will come into my report.

“It might be inappropriate for that information to be shared in the public domain as it is quite personal to him and his circumstances.”

This view was backed by John Dixon-Dawson, the council’s ‘independent person’ in the complaints process, who claimed future publication of the committee’s decision and deliberations could strike a balance between ‘openness, fairness and impartiality and the need to protect the confidentiality of the information’.