One of two Birmingham city councillors suspended from office for a month after making a video of a dilapidated building in Moseley is to appeal against the decision.
Martin Mullaney will appeal against an order that he apologise to the owner of former tram depot offices for entering the building without permission and posting a film showing the condition of the interior on the internet.
The city council Standards Committee decided that Coun Mullaney and fellow Moseley & Kings Heath Liberal Democrat councillor Ernie Hendricks must write expressing their regret to Safdar Zaman, the owner of the Grade ll listed building. Failure to do so will result in the suspension of both councillors.
Coun Hendricks is refusing to apologise, but will not appeal against the suspension.
Coun Mullaney, who initially said he would apologise, has changed his mind and lodged an appeal. The suspension order will be put on hold while the appeal process takes place.
The length of time taken to consider the appeal by the Standards Board’s Ajudication Panel may mean that the matter remains unresolved by the date of the city council elections on May 1, when Coun Mullaney will be defending his Moseley and Kings Heath seat.
Minutes of the Standards Committee hearing into the incident, released by the council yesterday, show that the nine members took a split decision.
While there was unanimous agreement that the two councillors broke the code of conduct by failing to show Mr Zaman respect, the imposition of a one-month suspension order was passed by a majority vote. A charge of bringing the council into disrepute was rejected, again on a majority vote.
The committee concluded that Coun Mullaney and Coun Hendricks trespassed on private land despite repeated requests from Mr Zaman for them to leave his property, and produced a video the content of which was biased against Mr Zaman.
A plea that the two were acting as private individuals and not as councillors when they entered the building was unanimously rejected by the committee.
Coun Mullaney said his appeal would be based on research showing that he had been on a right of way passing through Mr Zaman’s property when he made the video. He maintains he was acting in the public interest and made the film after becoming frustrated by the failure of the council planning department to respond to his concerns about the state of the building.