Councillor refuses to apologise

Councillor refuses to apologise

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City of Gosnells councillor Glenn Dewhurst vows not to apologise to mayor Olwen Searle despite her clearance from the Corruption and Crime Commission over allegations she lied under oath. Photograph — Matt Devlin.
City of Gosnells councillor Glenn Dewhurst vows not to apologise to mayor Olwen Searle despite her clearance from the Corruption and Crime Commission over allegations she lied under oath. Photograph — Matt Devlin.

City of Gosnells councillor Glenn Dewhurst has refused to apologise to mayor Olwen Searle despite her call for him to do so after the Corruption and Crime Commission found she had no case to answer.

Mr Dewhurst launched an attack on Mrs Searle in February when he alleged in an ordinary council meeting she had lied about where she lived while under oath.

He later referred the matter to the Corruption and Crime Commission.

Last week Mrs Searle released a press release via her lawyer saying her position had been vindicated.

In it she called on Mr Dewhurst to apologise.

“I never misled on oath, my position is vindicated by the fact that the CCC closed the file without calling a single witness,” she said.

“Councillor Dewhurst’s allegations included in his motion, as reported widely in the newspapers, were inappropriate, incorrect, hurtful and defamatory.

“In my view he ought to publically apologise for alleging I gave misleading information on oath on two occasions to mislead council and ratepayers.”

Mrs Searle also issued a warning against factionalism in councils and said she was determined not to allow the ‘baseless allegations’ to affect the goodwill between councillors.

“Councillors must always exercise their judgement in making decisions having regard to all relevant information,” she said.

“Local government is not divided by party lines or factionalism, put simply factionalism has no place within local government.

“I am committed to the highest standards of governance and expect councillors to do the same.”

She said the city had important strategic work to undertake and she was focussed on driving the council to meet ratepayer expectations and not be distracted in their task.

Mr Dewhurst remained unrepentant and said he was disappointed by the CCC’s findings.

“I definitely won’t be apologising and I would put anyone in front of the CCC if they’ve done something wrong,” he said.

“I just don’t understand how people can make statutory declarations knowing full well that the declaration is not right and for the CCC to not take action on it or not to have a look at it is quite poor.”

Mrs Searle’s call for an apology comes off the back of an attempt by her lawyer Timothy Houweling to have council minutes referencing the allegations changed.

In March Mr Houweling called on the city to remove ‘defamatory statements’ from the minutes.

This was rejected by chief executive Ian Cowie, who said the minutes reflected what occurred and were a statutory document once confirmed.

At the time Mrs Searle distanced herself from the move and said it was ‘just the opinion of a lawyer’.