Kitcat cleared of breaking council rules

Posted On 03 Nov 2010 at 9:02 pm

A Green councillor has been cleared of all the complaints made against him by his Conservative opponents on Brighton and Hove City Council.

Councillor Jason Kitcat was working under the threat of a six-month suspension if he continued to refuse to apologise for posting video clips of a council meeting on YouTube. He had also been told to submit for retraining.

Today his case was heard by Standards for England – formerly the Standards Board for England – at the Hilton Brighton Metropole in King’s Road, Brighton.

Councillor Kitcat said on his Twitter account: “I won on all counts. All sanctions against me dismissed.

“Thank you for all the support and congratulations.”

The council said that Councillor Kitcat had improperly used a council resource – the copyright of the video clips – for political purposes when he uploaded the clips on YouTube. To see his YouTube channel click here.

This video of Councillor Geoffrey Theobald prompted a complaint against Councillor Jason Kitcat

Councillor Kitcat said that the council had webcast the meeting and that he was sharing more widely a video that the council wanted the public to see.

After the Standards for England tribunal overturned his suspension today Councillor Kitcat said that the result was “a victory for openness and democracy for voters and councillors not just in this city but across the country”.

He said: “Councillors should be held to account by the ballot box, not a set of regulations which are so open to abuse for wasteful political point scoring.

“I continue to believe that it was in the best interests of my constituents that I made the proceedings of public council meetings more open and accessible to all.

“I did this at no cost to the council, using my own computer.

“This complaint against me has been a massive waste of council resources and officer time.

“But I am thankful that the tribunal panel’s findings have supported the important principle of free political speech having priority over copyright law and the councillor code of conduct.”

Councillor Kitcat is now free to continue representing the voters of Regency ward.

In the run-up to the hearing he won support from an unlikely quarter, the Conservative cabinet minister Eric Pickles.

The Communities and Local Government Secretary announced that he was abolishing Standards for England.

Mr Pickles cited Councillor Kitcat’s case as an example of the “petty allegations, often a storm in a teacup, (which) damaged the reputation and standing of local government as well as wasting taxpayers’ money”.

Last week in the House of Commons Mr Pickles offered his support by echoing former Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s famous phrase: “U turn if you want to, the lady’s not for turning.”

He urged Councillor Kitcat: “YouTube if you want to!”

And now he can.

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