Coventry City Councillor breached Code by failing to declare property interests

14 Nov 2018

Inquests and Inquiries, Public Law and Judicial Review

Coventry City Council’s Ethics Committee has found that Cllr Rois Ali breached its Code of Conduct for members by failing to disclose numerous property interests in Coventry within 28 days of his election and, subsequently, by long delays in making a full disclosure of all of his Disclosable Pecuniary Interests.

Cllr Ali is a well-known businessman in Coventry and owns a large number of properties in the city. He was elected in May 2016 but had not made any entries on his register of interests within the 28 day time limit set by s.30(1) of the Localism Act 2011. When he made his first entry on his register of interests, it contained a number of omissions.

Despite several warnings from officers, Cllr Ali failed to promptly and comprehensively disclose his DPIs until February 2018.

Matt Lewin was appointed as an independent investigator following a complaint by Cllr Tim Mayer, also a member of the City Council. He found that there had been four breaches of the Code.

Three related to Cllr Ali’s failings in disclosing his DPIs.

The fourth breach related to comments made during an interview with Cllr Ali, in which the councillor threatened to “stamp on” Cllr Mayer. Cllr Ali also said that he would take Cllr Mayer “to the cleaners”.

Matt concluded that Cllr Ali had not acted dishonesty and found no evidence that Cllr Ali had participated in any Council business in which he had a DPI.

At a meeting of the City Council’s Standards Committee on 6 November 2018, Cllr Ali accepted that he had not disclosed his DPIs within the deadline and that he regretted his choice of words directed at Cllr Mayer.

The Standards Committee found that Cllr Ali had breached two sections of the Code in relation to declaring DPIs in line with members’ legal obligations.

The Standards Committee did not find that Cllr Ali’s comments towards Cllr Mayer had breached the Code. Although “ill-considered”, they had been not been made in a public forum and had not formed part of the original complaint.

The case was reported by the BBC, the Coventry Telegraph and the Coventry Observer.

Matt is a member of Cornerstone Barristers’ Public Law team. He is regularly instructed to investigate complaints against local authority councillors, provides advice to Monitoring Officers’ on standards and governance issues and also gives training on the subject. He is currently instructed in an ongoing judicial review claim brought by a former leader against Devon County Council’s decision to sanction him for sexual harassment of staff members.