Former Sandwell Council boss refuses to apologise over staff suspensions

A former Sandwell Council boss has refused calls to apologise after six cabinet secretaries were wrongly suspended.

Steve Eling, inset, stepped down as council leader in February and quit as a councillor in May
Steve Eling, inset, stepped down as council leader in February and quit as a councillor in May

Yvonne Davies, leader of Sandwell Council, said Steve Eling should apologise over the suspensions, which happened in January 2018 under Mr Eling's leadership.

An independent investigation - which concluded in October - found that the staff members, who were secretaries to cabinet members, were wrongly suspended.

Mr Eling, who is no longer a serving councillor, denied he had any involvement.

After the investigation concluded, councillor Davies said it was highly likely that Mr Eling was involved in the talks, which lead to the suspensions.

Mr Eling responded by making an official complaint against Councillor Davies with Sandwell Council, claiming she was "breaching standards in public life".

Councillor Davies then responded by calling for Mr Eling to apologise, and questioned his ethics, asking: "Why is he not outraged at the injustices?"

Now Mr Eling has said: "What I say to her is 'people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones'.

"I haven't seen this report (made from the independent investigation), so I don't know what it says.

"But I have written to the council and I have been told in writing that it does not place any responsibility on members, including me.

"As far as I and cabinet members were concerned, it was a proper process being undertaken properly.

"Her making that statement then in relation to me and my ethics from her position as leader is an abuse of that office.

"I know only too well what it means to be in that role and how you have to be careful what you say.

"I have referred that abuse in addition to the ethical standards complaints I have already put in against her."

Mr Eling was suspended from Labour in January over a complaint, of which the details have still never come to light.

He then resigned as council leader in February and was replaced by Steve Trow, who served as leader for a short period before stepping down.

In May, Mr Eling stepped down as a councillor, while councillor Davies was elected council leader, after defeating Ann Shackleton by 35 votes to 33 in May.

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