HOMOSEXUAL pornographic magazines found in a private members’ lounge at Aberdeen City Council were yesterday confiscated by chief executive Sue Bruce as she reminded councillors of the need to salvage the council’s bruised reputation.
The Gay Times magazines were discovered in an off-duty relaxation area in St Nicholas House – just days after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was forced to apologise for claiming expenses for two pornographic films watched by her husband.
In a confidential e-mail sent to all elected members yesterday, Mrs Bruce said: “I have received complaints about top-shelf magazines being left on display in the members' lounge.
“I have taken the liberty of removing these and they are available in my office to be collected should the owner wish to do so.
“Given the concerted efforts being made by members and officers collectively to restore the reputation of Aberdeen City Council I would suggest that it is thoroughly inappropriate for material of this type to be displayed on Aberdeen City Council premises.
“I appreciate that the members' lounge is primarily an ‘off-duty' space for elected members. However, I would suggest that conduct should be in keeping with the status of the public office that we hold.”
It is understood Mrs Bruce, who took over the running of the council in November, sent the memo after receiving several complaints.
Labour secretary Willie Young said it was another damaging blow to the public's perception of the council.
He said: “I don't think people are interested in councillors' sexuality, but they are interested in their politics.
“It's disappointing to find that whoever it is behind it has put that kind of magazine into the council offices to try to offend.”
Council leader Kate Dean said “everyone is entitled to their own thoughts on reading materials” but the magazine is “probably” not suitable for council premises.
Depute leader Kevin Stewart backed her stance, saying that the council “is not the place for things like that”.
Liberal Democrat councillor John Stewart, who is in an openly gay marriage with fellow Lib Dem depute leader Neil Fletcher, said he supported Ms Bruce's decision.
He said: “Some of the advertising in the Gay Times would be inappropriate.
“There are sex adverts and escort adverts and things like that which are not entirely appropriate in a public display for the casual observer.
“I understand the chief executive’s concerns in that respect.”
However, Conservative councillor Alan Donnelly said he was surprised at the decision.
“It surprised me because we've got a gay couple who are married and about 20% of councillors who are gay, either in or out the closet.
“Apparently it has offended some councillors. It is the members' lounge, but it is a public building and I don't really know where the boundaries lie.”