A north-east sheriff has strongly criticised a senior Aberdeen councillor and the approach taken by police in a taxi licensing dispute.
Sheriff Malcolm Garden was scathing in his assessment of deputy city council leader Marie Boulton in a court judgement published yesterday.
He further criticised the way in which police handled their submission to the local authority’s licensing committee in the legal dispute.
The sheriff’s ruling concerned an appeal from a former cab driver from Aberdeen, Varinder Sood, who was contesting a decision by the committee to refuse to renew his taxi driver’s licence.
Mr Sood’s application was originally knocked back in June 2012, and he lost a subsequent appeal in February 2013.
However, Mr Sood submitted a fresh bid later last year, which was again refused.
In his judgement on the latest appeal heard on August 20, Sheriff Garden found that the committee acted properly in refusing the application.
But he took issue with evidence presented by Mrs Boulton, who is also convener of the city’s licensing board.
Sheriff Garden described the submissions from other councillors on the committee, and from legal officials at the local authority, as “consistent, credible and reliable”.
In contrast, he rejected Mrs Boulton’s contribution.
He said: “It is a matter of concern that a senior councillor should apparently have such a poor recollection of what is a quasi-judicial process or should have misunderstood the proceedings before her to such a marked extent. I will comment no further.”
On the police, who had submitted the same letter of objection to Mr Sood’s first application as on the second. Sheriff Garden said: “The impression is that they could not be bothered to formulate an appropriately worded document.
“Given that they are fully aware this is a submission to a lay committee, I find this to be irresponsible and highly disrespectful to all concerned.”
Last night, Mrs Boulton said she was “bemused” at the comments from the sheriff. She added: “I supported the committee in its decision to refuse the application – I felt due process had been followed.”
Fraser Forsyth, convener of the licensing committee, said he was “reassured” the sheriff had backed the committee’s ruling.
Mr Forsyth also defended the input at committee meetings from police, who he said “are always extremely well prepared.”