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Councillor who breached code of conduct three times must make a public apology

PUBLISHED: 09:00 21 November 2018

Cllr Laila Butt at a count for Barking and Dagenham Council. The former Cabinet member for enforcement has been ordered to apologise after failing to declare financial interests in two Barking properties. Picture: KEN MEARS

Cllr Laila Butt at a count for Barking and Dagenham Council. The former Cabinet member for enforcement has been ordered to apologise after failing to declare financial interests in two Barking properties. Picture: KEN MEARS

Archant

A councillor responsible for punishing rogue landlords who failed to declare a property her husband rents out has been ordered to make a public apology.

The council’s standards sub-committee found Abbey ward Cllr Laila Butt breached the council’s code of conduct three times after failing to declare hers and her husband’s interests in properties in Strathfield Gardens and St Awdry’s Road, Barking.

Barking and Dagenham Council launched an investigation after it emerged the Abbey war councillor failed to list the Strathfield Gardens property – owned by her husband Shahid Hussain Butt – on her register of interests.

It found Cllr Butt made “misleading statements” to the council’s monitoring officer – whose job it is to ensure councillors meet standards of behaviour – and council leader Darren Rodwell about her husband’s interest in the St Awdry’s Road property.

However, the investigation found no evidence of a conflict of interest arising from Cllr Butt’s failures when she was the cabinet member for enforcement, a role which included punishing rogue landlords.

The sub-committee ordered her to attend a code of conduct training course and make a public apology.

Barking Conservatives chairwoman, Tamkeen Shaikh, said: “A councillor in charge of law enforcement forgets to abide by the rules. Instead of a fine she is asked to go on a training course.

“I would ask residents fined for not abiding by the law, ‘Was this a fair and transparent investigation?’”

London Assembly member, Andrew Boff, said: “Cllr Butt’s ‘punishment’ is to attend a training course. She has had eight years of code of conduct training courses. If it didn’t work before, why does the Labour dominated committee think it will work this time?

“This borough’s residents expect that the highest standards of behaviour from elected officials should be enforced, not ignored.”

A Barking & Dagenham Labour group spokesman said: “Cllr Butt remains suspended from Barking and Dagenham Labour Group pending the outcome of an investigation by the party.

“We are not in a position to make any further comment at this stage.”

Cllr Butt stepped down from her cabinet role in May.

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