Almost half the complaints about Senedd members last year were down to one member.

Complaints against Senedd members in the past year rose from 106 to 216, an increase of 104 per cent, according to the annual report of the senedd commissioner for standards which was published today.

But just under half of those complaints were related to former member Neil McEvoy.

Of the 216 complaints received between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, 72 per cent were for either failure to register/declare an interest (95 complaints) or conduct on social media by a member (60 complaints).

The overall conduct of members continues to be of a high standard and admissible complaints were received against only eight of the 60 members.

89 (41 per cent) complaints were found to be inadmissible for various reasons, such as how members expressed an opinion, lack of sufficient evidence or an alleged poor service by a member.

Senedd commissioner for standards, Douglas Bain said; “The record high number of complaints again demonstrates close scrutiny by the public of the conduct of members.

“When the public believe that a member has fallen short of the required high standard of conduct it is right that a complaint is made and investigated by the independent standards commissioner.

“During the year 216 new complaints were received and this is by far the highest number since the office of commissioner was established in 2009.

“That said, I am satisfied that almost all members continue to observe the high standard of conduct rightly expected of them.’’

The main duty of the commissioner is to investigate and report on complaints that a member has broken the provisions of the code of conduct or certain other documents. 

By law the commissioner is prohibited from giving information about any particular complaint.

The significant increase in the number of complaints received was very largely due to the conduct of Neil McEvoy, a now former Senedd Member.

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He made six complaints, none of them admissible, against other members and was the subject of 97 complaints about his conduct. 

Bain added: “All the figures for 2020-21 are skewed by the conduct of a single former member, Neil McEvoy.  He made six complaints and was the subject of 97 complaints, of which 91 were admissible, and five reports to the committee.

“When his conduct is discounted there has been no significant change in the level of complaints activity during the year.

“Apart from the complaints against Mr McEvoy of failure to declare a relevant interest, by far the largest number of complaints was again about comments made by members on social media.”

Whilst the level of inadmissible complaints continued at a high level the code of conduct that came into effect at the commencement of the Sixth Senedd and the proposed new procedural rules and guidance will provide an opportunity to reduce this wasteful activity. 

Bain concluded; “With the new code of conduct now in place I predict a significant reduction in the number of complaints in 2021-22. In the first quarter we have seen a significant fall in the number of complaints, with only seven received.”

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