Councillor cleared over Rothesay harbour case complaint

Dunoon councillor Michael Breslin.
Dunoon councillor Michael Breslin.

A member of Argyll and Bute Council has been cleared of misconduct over his involvement in a long-running dispute over access to Rothesay harbour.

Dunoon councillor Michael Breslin had been the subject of a complaint to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland by three other Argyll and Bute councillors - leader Dick Walsh, depute leader Ellen Morton and provost Len Scoullar - alleging that he had breached elements of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct.

But commissioner Bill Thomson has found that Mr Breslin did not breach the code in any of the areas in which he was alleged to have done so.

The complaint related to statements made by Mr Breslin in correspondence with councillors and officials over Rothesay businessman Calum McMillan’s dispute with the local authority over access to the harbour for his vessel MV Seahorse II.

Mr McMillan, the owner of local firm Argyll Workboats, is seeking compensation from the council for what he says is the authority’s refusal to allow Seahorse II to return to Rothesay harbour after improvement works were carried out in 2007 and 2008.

The complaint alleged that Mr Breslin had an “inappropriate relationship” with Mr McMillan, and that he had abused his position by:

- representing the interests of the individual rather than those of the council

- being critical of, and disrespectful towards, officers at a public meeting of the council’s Bute and Cowal area committee (the Rothesay harbour authority at the time of the case)

- failing to declare a non-financial interest in connection with the dispute

- attempting to engage in direct operational management on the issue

- breaching the provisions of the code relating to lobbying on a matter involving regulatory powers.

In all the areas above Mr Thomson’s report found that Mr Breslin had not breached the code; you can read Mr Thomson’s findings in full by clicking here.

Mr Breslin told The Buteman: “I’m obviously pleased that I’ve been cleared. But this complaint singled me out, rather than seeking to take action against a group of councillors who were concerned about the situation regarding Calum McMillan and the council.

“I was particularly disturbed by the allegation that I had breached the code because I was a friend of Calum’s. I’d never met the man until the issue around Seahorse II surfaced, and it was easy to find out that the allegation wasn’t true.”