An official complaint was lodged against a Tory councillor after concerns about “suspicious” consultation responses in an election boundaries review, we can reveal.
The commission of Boundaries Scotland said that Alastair Redman – who has now been kicked out of the Scottish Conservatives following an internal disciplinary process – had “admitted submitting responses purporting to be from other people”.
The commissioners, who are appointed by Scottish ministers, revealed they had submitted a complaint about Mr Redman to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in February this year, and copied it to Argyll and Bute Council.
But they were left “disappointed” when informed in March that “no further action” would be taken against the councillor.
Boundaries Scotland, which used to be known as the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland, said it then wrote to the Scottish Government about the matter.
It is understood it had suggested the code of conduct for councillors should be strengthened in the wake of the issue.
A spokeswoman for the standards commissioner confirmed on Wednesday the complaint about Mr Redman was “dismissed” because the alleged conduct “was not covered by a substantive, actionable” part of the councillors’ code of conduct.
The responses related to a 12-week consultation, held between November 2020 and January this year, about proposed ward boundary changes at Argyll and Bute Council.
We revealed on Monday that Mr Redman was no longer a member of the Scottish Conservatives, having previously been suspended by the party.
‘Helping out my constituents’
When asked about claims he had used different aliases to respond to the Boundaries Scotland consultation, Mr Redman denied the allegations, insisting he was merely “helping out my constituents” fill out the feedback forms.
He also suggested his former party had thrown him “under the bus”, and confirmed he would be standing as an independent at the local government elections next year.
Boundaries Scotland has now issued a statement on the matter.
It said: “In late December 2020 it became apparent that a number of responses, opposing the commission’s proposed Islay, Jura and Colonsay ward, came from the same source. One of those responses was from Councillor Redman.
“At this time we phoned Councillor Redman and he admitted submitting responses purporting to be from other people as part of our statutory consultation.
“Councillor Redman advised he had notified the individuals to advise the responses could not be considered by the commission and that they would be deleted.
“As far as we are aware none of those names submitted a later response.
“There were no further suspicious responses received after that telephone call.”
There were no further suspicious responses received after that telephone call.”
Boundaries Scotland said it wrote a letter of complaint to the standards commissioner in February, which it also sent to Argyll and Bute Council, but no action was taken.
It said: “The commission was disappointed in this response and agreed to write to Scottish Government regarding the code of conduct.
“In June 2021 the commission wrote again to Councillor Redman stating its disappointment with his actions. Councillor Redman did not respond to this.”
Mr Redman is currently one of three councillors who represent Kintyre and the Islands at the local authority.
However, under the proposals, his ward would have been renamed “Islay, Jura and Colonsay”, and would have been cut down to two councillors.
Changes to ward boundaries in the Argyll and Bute Council area, and Highland Council, have been put on hold after a recent vote by MSPs on Holyrood’s local government committee.
On Monday, Mr Redman said: “I was merely helping out my constituents fill out boundary changes forms, in what was a successful local campaign to stop the boundaries changes taking place.
“Before I was elected to local office, I had done similar things for my constituents in making claim forms, for instance against SSE, when we had a number of power cuts on Islay.
“When I was in the post office, I would always help out my customers fill out forms, so it is no different from that.
“I was merely helping my constituents in a local campaign to stop the boundary changes happen, which was, by the way, very successful.”
Code of conduct
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “It is important that those in elected office, including councillors adhere to the highest standards of behaviour.
“The councillors’ code of conduct which sets out openly and clearly the standards that are expected of councillors was recently revised and approved by the Scottish Parliament and is expected to come into effect on 7 December.”
A spokeswoman for Argyll and Bute Council said: “We can confirm Boundaries Scotland advised the council of their findings in this matter.”