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Former Welsh community councillor barred from office for a year over “wanton and furious driving” conviction

A former Llansantffraed Community Council councillor has been barred from holding office as a councillor for a year by the Adjudication Panel for Wales after being found guilty of causing bodily harm by wanton and furious driving.

In May 2019, Caryl Vaughan was involved in an incident in which she drove her car "at speed" on private land at a council contractor while he was undertaking his duties for the council. The incident took place just three days after Vaughan signed her declaration of acceptance of office.

"Her car struck two minors during the incident; at least one suffered bodily harm," according to a report from the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

The police investigated the incident, leading to her being charged with causing bodily harm by "wanton and furious driving".

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She pleaded guilty to the offence and was handed a suspended sentence of 10 weeks' imprisonment in December 2020 but continued in her role as a councillor and did not report her conduct to the Monitoring Officer or the Ombudsman.

Vaughan then resigned later that same month after the story gained media attention.

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales investigated a complaint about the former councillor in regard to the case. The Ombudsman referred its report to the Adjudication Panel for Wales, which conducted a Case Tribunal.

The tribunal found that Vaughan had breached paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct by bringing her office as councillor into disrepute.

"It was obvious from the evidence that former Cllr Vaughan only resigned, not because she felt any remorse or shame, but in order to avoid an investigation by the Ombudsman," the tribunal noted.

It added: "The likely view by the public of such conduct would be that former Cllr Vaughan had no regard or respect for the principles of public service, including integrity, openness, and leadership."

The tribunal concluded by unanimous decision that former Cllr Vaughan should be disqualified for 12 months from being or becoming a member of Llansantffraed Community Council or of any other relevant authority within the meaning of the Local Government Act 2000.

In response to the tribunal's decision, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Michelle Morris, said: "We hope that lessons will be learned from this case. On that note, it is especially helpful that the panel also recommended that all Councillors of the Community Council and the Clerk should attend training on the Code to ensure they understand its provisions, including paragraph 6(1)(b)."

The only response from Vaughan made during the investigation by the Ombudsman, and the panel's tribunal was made in November 2021 when she informed the Ombudsman by email that she would not attend an interview. In it, she said: "I wish not to attend the interview as its a busy time for me with work commitments and unable to find time that would be adequate for the interview. I would like to draw a line underneath it all and move forward. I joined the parish council to have a young voice representing the village and after discussing with the clerk and other people was better to resign to avoid the interviews as for me would feel more pressure and would not be worth the worrying and stress."

She was invited to make submissions to the tribunal but failed to do so.

Adam Carey

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