THE Mayor of Leyburn has received an apology from a council watchdog over its handling of a complaint against him.

The chief executive of the Standards Board for England, David Prince, has apologised to Coun Ian Barker for a remark made in a letter to the complainant. The board had originally thrown out the complaint against the mayor by Leyburn resident Sarah Borman. It decided the allegation was too insignificant to merit an investigation.

Mrs Borman had alleged, among other things, that a letter written to the mayor had not been brought to the attention of the council.

Mrs Borman sought a review of the decision and in a letter to her, Mr Prince suggested that Coun Barker's treatment of a letter from her to the mayor was disrespectful.

Mr Prince has now withdrawn the remark saying that as no investigation had been held and no findings reached, Coun Barker's treatment of the letter could only be described as "potentially disrespectful".

In a letter to the mayor this week, Mr Prince apologised "for the obvious upset and distress that has resulted."

Coun Barker said he was pleased to have received the apology and the Standards Board's ruling on the allegation.

"I am pleased by Mr Prince's response," he said. "But I believe the Standards Board should not have commented on the allegation once it had decided not to investigate the matter."

He said he was taking the matter further with the board.

He added that Mrs Borman letter to him had not been brought to council's attention because it was sent to his home address and marked "Private and Confidential".