A former council leader alleged to have had an affair with his personal assistant has been accused of helping her get the job by providing the interview questions in advance.
Cllr Aaron Shotton appeared before a standards panel today in relation to several claims surrounding his reported affair with Hayley Selvester, which was first brought to light by the press in June 2018.
The ex-leader of Flintshire Council is said to have breached the local authority’s code of conduct by giving her an opportunity to see the questions the day before she was interviewed in 2012.
The married Labour politician is also said to have exhanged inappropriate sexual text messages with Ms Selvester during office hours.
However, the pair have denied media reports they had sex on council property or during the line of their work and the Adjudication Panel for Wales heard it did not form part of the case against the Connah’s Quay representative.
Ms Selvester, who is also married, originally claimed it was a joke that Cllr Shotton left her interview questions on his desk for her to read.
But giving evidence at the hearing in Llandudno, she said her initial statement had been inaccurate and he had given her the chance to look at them. She added she “took advantage” of the offer.
Cllr Shotton stepped down from his role in April last year amid growing pressure following a row over the sacking of his deputy Bernie Attridge.
Recalling the events, the council’s chief executive Colin Everett said he was concerned press coverage of the events had damaged the authority’s reputation, but held out praise for Cllr Shotton’s leadership.
He said: “It’s a very special relationship between the leader and the chief executive.
“I’ve always regarded Aaron Shotton as an excellent leader and by that I mean in terms of his vision and determination.
“Our relationship at a professional level remained as strong as it should do between a chief executive and leader, but they were very tense times and quite turbulent times as you can imagine.
“I think it would be fair to say it was a matter of time (before he resigned) given the private discussions we had in which he referred to the pressure as huge.
“To his credit, he could see the best thing for the council at the time was separating out the personal reflections that were being made from the course of the council business.
“I hoped it might help him get some personal closure because there had been so much speculation and the press coverage had been very intrusive into people’s lives.”
Mr Everett, who worked on the same floor as the pair, said he first became aware of the allegations when they were reported in the press.
But he said he had not previously been concerned about their relationship or seen any evidence of an affair.
Ms Selvester’s line manager Sharron Jones also gave evidence in which she said she did not recall giving Cllr Shotton sight of questions before the interviews for the personal assistant role were carried out.
However, she added that such an arrangement would not be unusual.
Ms Selvester’s claims she was allowed to see the questions in advance are expected to be challenged by Cllr Shotton’s barrister tomorrow.
The full hearing, which was convened following a referral from the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, is anticipated to last for three days.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).