I am going to restrict my comment to my participation in a meeting with him and the Mayor on 5th November. A press report on that meeting is here. Not entirely accurate, in my opinion, but more or less correct.
Yesterday the Mayor in a live BBC interview said this
“...It was good enough for (Cllr Coyne) it was good enough for me. Howard Newby chaired it, the city solicitor was there and we didn’t take part in a charade. We took part in an investigation, if you like, a conversation with the chief executive, talking to him about his role in Rotherham and he explained that in a fair and open and transparent way and I think that satisfied everybody there.”
Again, more or less correct, but I need to clarify. I didn't see it as an investigation. It was a briefing and a conversation. An implication that we "investigated" and were "satisfied" could be misleading. I was satisfied about the CEX's openness to us in responding to questions and explaining. But we were not, and never could be, in a position to reach any conclusion about his time at Rotherham. That would require a full knowledge of all the facts and the resources to mount a proper investigation.
The City Council's role in this is as the employer of a CEX and it has a duty of care to all employees. It doesn't have the responsibility to take any action about the conduct of that employee in a previous job.
If the Council did start to open any kind of conduct inquiry it would have had to be held in private anyway - just like any disciplinary hearing of any employee at whatever level. But my understanding of the advice is that Council has no locus to open any kind of formal process and if it did so and if subsequently the CEX felt he had to resign over Rotherham, then he could seek to sue the Council for having made his position impossible.
So I took part in a confidential briefing which was not an investigation and could not reach any conclusion. Why should I do that?
There are two reasons. In May this year the Green Party became the main opposition and I became Leader of the Opposition on the City Council. The new role involves more contact with the Chief Executive. This is not a close relationship - we don't meet socially - but it is a working relationship. Given that he was willing to speak to political leaders to explain his account of his time at Rotherham and deal with media speculation, I believed it would help me to know more about his version of the facts.
The second reason is that, as opposition leader, I have a responsibility to scrutinise what the Mayor does. Being at the meeting allowed me to do that. If I thought there was any wrongdoing by the Mayor then I would not hesitate to say so. As it happens, I think the constraints on him and the Council as the employer do not allow any other course of action.
Having agreed to attend a confidential meeting, I will continue to respect that confidentiality. There was no record taken and I will not disclose any recollections of what was asked or answered.
That may disappoint some people, but it should be recognised that the meeting of 5th November has not changed anything. If there is a reputable employment lawyer willing to offer contrary advice and say that the Council indeed does have a duty to investigate an employee's conduct in another job ten years ago and can do that fairly, then the Council could look at that advice.