A SCOTTISH Borders Council elected member accused of breaching the councillors’ code of conduct has been cleared of any blame.

After a 16-month investigation by the Standards Commission for Scotland it was concluded that the unnamed councillor did not have a case to answer with the complaint lodged against them dismissed.

Details of the case are contained in a written decision issued by the commission’s executive director, Lorna Johnston.

The report shows that following an investigation into a complaint received in October 2022, concerning an alleged contravention of the versions of the code of conduct by an elected member of the council (the respondent), the Ethical Standards Commissioner (ESC) referred the matter to the Standards Commission on February 22, 2024.

The complaint concerned an allegation that the respondent had failed to declare an interest at two meetings of the council’s Common Good Fund Sub Committee, held on November 17, 2021, and November 23, 2022.

It also claimed that the respondent may have accepted a free or reduced-price pitch at a local event held by a local company on common good land, in contravention of the code’s provisions regarding gifts and hospitality.

In his report, Ian Bruce, the commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland, said: “The respondent had been able to demonstrate that payments were made by his business to the local company for pitches at events in 2018, 2019 and 2022. As such, there was no evidence that any gifts or hospitality had been received. There was also no evidence to suggest that the respondent had sought any preferential treatment for his company.”

The report adds that while the local company had benefited from the council’s policy not to charge certain organisations for the use of common good land, there was no evidence of a connection between the respondent, and his business, and the company that went beyond what might be expected of local businesses.

Mr Bruce said: “In any event, the respondent had paid for his pitch and, therefore, any benefit enjoyed by the local company as a result of the council’s decision was not passed on to him.

“While the respondent knew some of the directors of the local company and that his business had paid for pitches at an event run by it, there was no evidence of any other connection.

“As such, the ESC was unable to conclude that a member of the public, with knowledge of the relevant facts, would reasonably regard the respondent’s connection as so significant that it would be likely to prejudice his discussion or decision-making at either meeting. The ESC indicated, therefore, that he did not consider that the respondent had been required to declare an interest at either meeting.

“Having considered the various factors of the complaint and the evidence gathered, the ESC concluded that the respondent’s conduct did not amount to a breach of the code.”