A PRIVATE meeting to discuss the findings of a preliminary investigation into the conduct of a Herefordshire Council employee has been cancelled.

The council’s employment panel was due to meet at 2pm this afternoon, with members of the public and press excluded.

The council is able to hold hearings in private where it is discussing exempt or confidential information – in this case relating to a council employee.

However, the Hereford Times appealed this and argued the council had a duty to act as transparently as possible.

This newspaper regularly reports on council affairs by attending meetings held by – among others – planning, scrutiny and licensing committees and did not see there should be any reason to exclude the reporting team from the hearing.

Meetings, we said, should only be held in private if there is a matter of national security.

We said we believed it was in the public interest that the matter was discussed in public and that the council should reverse its decision in order to fulfil its duty of being an open and accountable authority.

The Hereford Times had not received a response from the council but an update on its website this morning states that the meeting has been cancelled.

No reason has been given for this.