Furious Highland councillors yesterday hit out at a report part-blaming them for the abrupt departure of an interim education boss last year.
Although not named in the report, councillors Andrew Baxter, Andrew Jarvie and Ron MacWilliam had publicly blasted the council for employing Paul Senior in May at agency fees of £936 per day in a row that culminated in Mr Senior’s abrupt resignation some three months later.
The report also highlighted a number of failings in the council’s own procedures during the appointment.
Chairman Graham Mackenzie warned the council’s audit and scrutiny meeting that on external, independent legal advice, the meeting was ‘not a forum for discussing individuals, their performance or renumeration’.
Mr Baxter unsuccessfully asked to see the advice.
He said after the meeting: “We saw another blatant attempt to browbeat those councillors who are prepared to stand up and question the actions of this out-of-control bureaucracy and inept administration into silence.
“From the outset this was clearly co-ordinated by the thinly veiled threat that we risk being reported for a breach of the councillor’s code of conduct if we ignored independent legal advice the council had received.
“Yet, when challenged we were not allowed to see that advice.
“I’ve written to the chief executive requesting that this legal advice is published; asking why it was sought and at what cost to the council.”
Mr MacWilliam told the meeting: “This innuendo is a culture problem which I’ve been victim of.”
Mr Jarvie said: “The implication is that any scrutiny which goes too far will be subject to the code of conduct, yet no-one has any idea who has broken it and which part has been breached.”