6 January 2020
Redland City Councillor Paul Gleeson has again been found guilty of misconduct after sending an intimidating text message to a woman who was both a complainant and a witness in previous misconduct proceedings against him.
The woman had made a complaint to the Office of the Independent Assessor (OIA) about the councillor’s online abuse of her which included publication of her photograph and personal details.
The OIA subsequently referred the case, amongst other matters, to the Councillor Conduct Tribunal to determine if Cr Gleeson had engaged in misconduct.
In June 2019, Cr Gleeson used his council-listed mobile phone to send text messages to the woman and her husband threatening to take legal action for slander and defamation against her, based on comments made in her complaint.
At the time the text messages were sent the woman’s complaint was before the tribunal.
On 16 August 2019, the tribunal found Cr Gleeson had committed misconduct as a result of his online conduct. In addition, he was found to have engaged in three other instances of misconduct, also relating to his online conduct as well as threats made to another councillor.
The tribunal reprimanded Cr Gleeson and made an order requiring him to pay fines of $2,100 over a six-month period.
On the 15 December 2019, the tribunal sustained a further misconduct finding based on the threatening text messages sent to the woman and her husband during the previous proceedings.
The tribunal found the message was intended to intimidate the woman from making any further complaints or disclosures to the OIA, which investigates councillor conduct and refers serious matters to the tribunal.
It found the messages could also be seen as an attempt to interfere with a witness.
The tribunal took into account the purpose of disciplinary proceedings, the councillor’s disciplinary history, his escalating conduct, lack of remorse or insight into his own conduct, and his decision to voluntarily take leave of absence from the council.
The tribunal fined Cr Gleeson a further $700 and ordered him to make a public admission he engaged in misconduct after finding his conduct constituted a breach of trust placed in him as a councillor, either knowingly or recklessly.
The tribunal noted that had Cr Gleeson not decided to take a leave of absence, a recommendation by the tribunal to the Local Government Minister “ for a period of suspension may have been considered appropriate in order to ensure that the Councillor took the time needed to obtain any support necessary to develop greater insight into his past behaviour, and how such behaviour should change if he were to continue in the role of a Councillor”.
According to the Redland City Council’s Councillor Conduct Register, Cr Gleeson has now accrued 17 sustained allegations of misconduct and inappropriate conduct since the last election, while a further inappropriate conduct claim was part-substantiated.
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal decision can be found here.
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