HEREFORDSHIRE Council continues to keep councillor misconduct hidden from public scrutiny.

The authority has so far refused to reveal at least one upheld code of conduct complaint against an elected member for the last financial year despite a recent push for more openness and accountability.

Full council voted for a change in its constitution at a meeting on May 25 which should lead to the publishing of upheld misconduct complaints.

However, officers at Plough Lane have excluded data for complaints for 2017/18 from a recent response to a freedom of information request.

They said they could not reveal the information because some complaints are ongoing, but this information they are withholding would also include the details of a code of conduct breach dealt with more than a year ago.

The Hereford Times can reveal that former Conservative councillor Emma Holton, who represents the Ledbury South ward, was found in breach of the code because the content of some emails she sent to Councillor Liz Harvey was disrespectful.

This complaint was upheld against coun Holton, who joined the Independents last month, almost a year before she crossed the floor. She was told to apologise to coun Harvey.

However, when asked, coun Harvey said she had not yet received an apology.

Coun Holton has so far not responded to requests for comment.

Her new group leader Bob Matthews said: “I have not had a chance to discuss the issue fully with coun Holton, so at this stage I have got nothing further to say on the matter.”

Former council leader Tony Johnson, who was Conservative group leader at the time of the complaint, said he did not realise the complaint had been upheld.

He said: “I remember there were exchanges of correspondence between herself and councillor Harvey.

“I ought to ask the council’s solicitor first what the thing was. It would be inappropriate for me to comment until I at least know what the thing was about.”

Following the freedom of information response and a subsequent request for an internal review of the reply, the council has extended its 20 day decision deadline which expired on August 14.