Conduct probe on district councillor

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

A Hadleigh councillor was being investigated by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office into allegations she used her position as a magistrate “for personal advantage” it has been revealed.

But Dr Siân Dawson, who was elected as Hadleigh North councillor on Babergh council last May, said the matter involved a dispute with a tradesman over £8,000 worth of work on floors at her home. She described the publication of the story as “hugely embarrassing”.

Dr Dawson, who said she had not sat as a magistrate for the past two years, said she was considering whether or not to respond publicly.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Unit said: “Dr Siân Dawson, a magistrate appointed to the London west area, has resigned from judicial office following an investigation into allegations she twice tried to use her position as a magistrate for personal advantage.

“A disciplinary panel recommended that Dr Dawson be removed from the judiciary, but she resigned before the disciplinary process had been formally concluded. Her resignation took effect from July 20, 2015. Had she not resigned, the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice would have removed her from judicial office.”

The spokesman would not give any details of the investigation adding: “The conduct investigations office publishes findings of misconduct on its website, but does not comment further in relation to any specific case.”

Dr Dawson is one of three Conservative candidates being considered for nomination for the Hadleigh division in next May’s county council elections. The seat becomes vacant because Conservative councillor Brian Riley, who has emigrated to America but travels back to attend meetings, sits as an independent.

Simon Barrett, deputy Conservative group leader for Babergh District Council confirmed Dr Dawson, along with former Suffolk County Council leader Jeremy Pembroke, and Hadleigh South councillor Kathryn Grandon were “still in the frame”. Hadleigh’s Conservative branch will make a decision by April 12.