Labour Councillor's Extraordiary Speech Leads to Meeting Being Censored
It has emerged that, after a recent meeting of Derby City Council, the video record of that meeting has been edited to remove comments made by Labour Cllr Fareed Hussain.
Cllr Hussain was speaking in defence of his disgraced colleague Gulfraz Nawaz. Cllr Nawaz, like all councillors, was given explicit legal guidance against acts such as the giving of personal references for taxi drivers on Council headed notepaper. However he chose to give a reference for a driver with a history of legal problems, leading to the Council's Standards Committee requiring him to be removed from his committee posts - which Labour have blocked, and which Cllr Hussain was opposing.
Cllr Hussain's extensive comments included making inflammatory accusations about opposition councillors and revealing information he will have known was strictly confidential about the taxi driver concerned. Cllr Hussain's extended and animated contribution shocked fellow councillors with both its tone and content.
Derby Lib Dem Group Leader Cllr Ruth Skelton said "I couldn't believe that a councillor with as much experience as Cllr Hussain would make such a speech.
"Cllr Hussain should know much better on several fronts. He shouldn't be making such allegations about other councillors. He shouldn't be revealing confidential information about members of the public. He shouldn't be attempting to defend Cllr Nawaz after he was heavily and justifiably criticised by both the Council Standards Committee and the independent external auditors.
"And now Council Officers have removed Cllr Hussain's speech from the public record. Could Cllr Hussain get in trouble for revealing details about the taxi driver? I believe he could. So is the censoring an attempt to get rid of the evidence? In the past such solid evidence has been the downfall of Labour Councillors.
"Cllr Hussain should be ashamed this extraordinary step was felt necessary, but why could the speech not have been published with sections bleeped out? Editing the public record in this way is a dangerous precedent.
"This speech brings into sharp focus the problems of poor governance at Derby City Council. The censorship of this speech only serves to brush the actions of Labour councillors under the carpet."
In the committee papers whose information Cllr Hussain was revealing, the details of the taxi driver would have been marked as 'not for publication by virtue of Paragraph 3 of Part 1 Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.'
This paragraph defines 'exempt information'. Such information cannot be made public as the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing such information.