Councillor cleared of wrong-doing

A ST HELENS councillor has spoken out after an inquiry into claims about ‘inappropriate emails’ cleared his name of wrong-doing.

The substance of the complaint related to an allegation that Coun Pearl and another member had been exchanging e-mails of an inappropriate nature and that the exchange of the emails was given a wider audience via the council’s email server using council email accounts.

The Local Determination sub-committee found that Coun Pearl was NOT the person who sent the emails, which were the subject of the complaint, from his business email account to the council email address of a former councillor.

Coun Pearl had no connection to these emails.

The sub-committee also said that in investigating the original complaint, it was found that Coun Pearl had received other emails at his council email address, which may be regarded as containing inappropriate material.

Coun Pearl did not report receipt of those emails in accordance with the requirements of the Members’ ICT Protocol.

Coun Pearl forwarded one of those emails from his council email address to his business email address and, therefore, redistributed it in breach of the Protocol.

But there was no evidence that Coun Pearl disseminated the email further from his own email address.

In failing to report receipt of the emails (not the subject of the original complaint) and by re-distributing one of those emails, he breached paragraph 6(b)(i) of the St Helens Code of Conduct for Elected Members, namely that members must, when using the resources of the authority, act in accordance with the authority’s reasonable requirements.

However, in respect of this failure to comply with the Code, the sub-committee decided that it was appropriate to take no action against Coun Pearl.

Today Coun Pearl said: “Many of us receive unsolicited emails all the time. We have not asked for these to be sent and this was the case here.

“None of the emails involved were abusive or racist in nature at all. I am glad that I have been vindictated in this as I have known right from the beginning that I did nothing wrong.

“It is therefore incorrect to have said, as the Reporter did last week, that I was found guilty of sending lewd emails about women and Muslims - that simply was not the case and I am pleased to have the opportunity to make that clear in print.”

A spokesman for St Helens Council said that no action was taken against Coun Pearl because he accepted he was in breach and at fault in failing to comply with the protocol; he had not previously failed to follow the Code and the sub-committee did not consider it necessary to order him to undertake additional training.

* The St Helens Reporter sincerely apologises to Coun Pearl for the headline in last week’s Reporter which incorrectly stated that Coun Pearl was guilty of sending inappropiate emails. We accept that this was not the case and once again apologise to Coun Pearl for causing a blemish on his character.