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Lib Dems stay silent over disciplining former mayor
FORMER Lord Mayor Alan Armitage will find out in the next few days whether he faces disciplinary action from the Liberal Democrat party.
Last month Mr Armitage, city councillor for North ward, was found by the city council’s standards committee to have breached the councillors’ code of conduct.
Also a county councillor for West Central Oxford, he was censured by the committee for bringing the position of Lord Mayor and the city council into disrepute. He resigned as Lord Mayor the following week.
He had been accused of telling a 13-year-old girl at a sports event in June last year: ‘It’s sexy when you bend down like that’.
He defended himself but admitted he may have used the word ‘sexy’.
On Monday night at the town hall, Liberal Democrat city councillors met to discuss whether Mr Armitage should face further disciplinary action from the party.
They made a recommendation to the party’s South Central regional body, but are refusing to reveal what that recommendation is.
Jean Fooks, leader of the city council’s Liberal Democrat group, said the group’s recommendation was passed to the South Central regional branch of the party.
She added: “We cannot say what was decided – the nature of the recommendation is confidential.”
South Central regional chairman Liz Leffman said the councillors’ recommendation would be considered this week by a panel of three people chosen from the Regional Local Parties Committee.
She added: “The panel has the authority to instruct Mr Armitage to stand down as a city councillor or a county councillor, but we may decide that stepping down from the role of Lord Mayor is enough.
“We are committed to making the process we follow as fair and as transparent as possible, and a decision will be made public on Friday or Monday. We will reveal the recommendation of the city councillors and also the decision of the panel, once the panel’s decision has been made.
“The panel’s decision could be the same as the councillors’ recommendation or it could be different.
“We want to make this procedure as fair as possible to both Alan and the other people involved.”
Ms Leffman said other disciplinary options could include a verbal warning or a written warning.
She added that Mr Armitage was entitled to attend the group meeting but did not attend.
Liberal Democrat city councillor for Carfax Tony Brett confirmed he attended the meeting and added: “I’m afraid the discussions in the meeting and their outcome are strictly confidential.
“Meetings of political groups on local authorities are not public meetings.”
Mr Armitage was unavailable for comment.