Bullying complaint of Hughenden clerk found guilty of fraud upheld

Bucks Free Press: Hughenden Parish Council offices Hughenden Parish Council offices

A COMPLAINT against the chairman of Hughenden Parish Council for bullying a parish clerk, who has been found guilty of fraud this week, has been upheld.

Cllr Tony Konieczny appeared before a panel meeting at Wycombe District Council on January 11 investigating his behaviour towards former parish clerk, Lynne Turner.

The bullying behaviour was said by the panel to have taken place between July 2010 and April 2011, when Cllr Konieczny was a councillor at HPC and before he was chairman, and when Turner was still in her role there.

This week Turner was found guilty of ten counts of fraud amounting to £28,200 which she transferred from the parish council accounts into her own account.

Cllr Konieczny's hearing, which the public and press were excluded from, happened before Turner's trial and was mentioned in court.

The complaint was brought by former Hughenden Cllr, David Jarman, who said Cllr Konieczny breached the member's code of conduct of HPC by failing to treat the clerk of the parish council with respect and by bullying her by making inappropriate comments at council meetings, in emails and on the internet.

The investigating officer upheld the complaint, finding failings on two counts of the code.

The findings said Cllr Konieczny "has subjected the parish clerk to unreasonable and excessive personal attacks at meetings, in emails and internet articles."

It said the bullying behaviour appeared to have lasted from July 2010 until April 2011.

The report added: "The longevity of the conduct, the nature of the behaviour, the fact that Cllr Konieczny is in a position of influence and power and that the parish clerk's confidence and capability have been adversely affected led the panel to this conclusion."

The panel decided that Cllr Konieczny should be reprimanded and receive training, also recommending he be removed from all outside appointments made by the parish council.

Cllr Konieczny later told the BFP he personally believed there were questions to be answered as to the way the proceedings were held.

He said: "The hearing was held in camera despite my very strong request that it should be held in public, in line with the Nolan Principles of openness and transparency. The findings however are to be made public, without anyone knowing how those findings were arrived at.

"These findings of the Standards Committee were used in evidence for the defence of ex clerk Lynne Turner, by ex councillor Peggy Ewart and ex councillor John Rogers in an attempt to explain the actions of the ex clerk. 

"Mrs Turner was found guilty on all ten counts of fraud by the unanimous verdict of the jury. I therefore feel somewhat vindicated for my persistent questioning to get honest answers from her in the face of obstruction  from Mrs Ewart and other, now, ex councillors.

"I have received many messages of support from fellow councillors and residents alike, but still feel that the only honourable course of action would be to offer to tend my resignation at the next council meeting."

WDC said press and public were excluded from proceedings under an appropriate section of local government legislation.

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