COUNCILLOR Rois Ali breached Coventry City Council’s code of conduct by failing to declare some of his business interests in matters referred to the police, an independent investigation has found.
The Labour councillor will now go before fellow councillors on the local authority’s ethics committee, which will decide if he is to be punished.
The wealthy businessman and property owner could face anything from a censure – a formal ticking off – to removal from certain duties.
Police were brought in, but decided not to prosecute.
In a damning ruling, he is also accused of breaching the code of conduct by making indirect threats concerning his political opponent, Conservative councillor Tim Mayer, including that he would “stamp on him”.
The landowner of a string of properties with restaurants and takeaways across Coventry, is also well known as a former restaurateur, formerly of the Rupali restaurant in Tile Hill and the former MYO at the Old Fire Station in Coventry city centre.
The Coventry Observer has in the last two years exposed numerous omissions and errors in Coun Ali’s declaration of his business interests, including omissions of certain properties he owns.
We also exposed a pattern of planning permission breaches at food eatery properties owned by him, including Ginger Orange restaurant in Kenpass Highway, Stivichall; and the Village Cafe in Tile Hill village. In each case, he as landlord has claimed the breaches of planning permission were the responsibility of his tenants.
An agenda item to go before the ethics committee next Tuesday (November 6) sets out details of the investigation into a complaint made that Coun Ali has breached the Code of Conduct for Elected Members.
A formal complaint was made in January by Coun Mayer that Coun Ali had failed to enter on his register of interests certain Disclosable Pecuniary Interests that he held.
Following consideration of the complaint by the monitoring officer Julie Newman, this matter was referred for a ‘Stage 2 investigation’ to an independent investigator Matt Lewin.
Tuesday’s agenda reads: “Following his investigation Mr Lewin found that Councillor Ali had breached four paragraphs of the Code.
“Councillor Ali accepts that he is in breach of two of these paragraphs but denies a breach of the other two.
“The matter is now to be presented to the Ethics Committee to consider whether or not Councillor Ali has breached the Code of Conduct for Elected and Co-opted
Members; and if so, should any sanctions be applied.”
The agenda adds: “Councillor Ali is a prominent businessman and landowner in Coventry and he has a number of interests throughout Coventry; Councillor Ali in his response felt that the requirements around registering his various interests were confusing and complex.
“When Mr Lewin was first appointed to investigate the complaint he considered that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that Councillor Ali had committed a criminal offence.
A referral was therefore made to West Midlands Police who considered the material provided in the referral and subsequently confirmed that they would not on this occasion be taking any action to progress a prosecution.
“Mr Lewin proceeded with his investigation and interviewed Councillor Ali as part of his enquiries. Councillor Ali in this interview confirmed that he had “sorted out” his register and provided reasons for not having completed his register within the required timescale.
“In his conclusion Mr Lewin did not accept the reasons provided by Councillor Ali and was concerned that he appeared not to appreciate the important point of principle that his duty to the public must take priority over his private interests.
“During the interview Councillor Ali also made comments in respect of Councillor Mayer who had made the complaint including that he would “stamp on him” and “take him to the cleaners”. Mr Lewin found these comments to also constitute a breach of the Code.”
The four paragraphs of the Code of Conduct that Mr Lewin has found that Councillor Ali has breached are:
a) Paragraph 2 (f) – Honesty – I will declare any private interests relating to my public duties and take steps to resolve any conflict arising in a way that protects the public interests.
b) Paragraph 3 (h) – Behave in accordance with all my legal obligations, alongside any requirements contained within the Councils’ policies, protocols and procedures, including on the use of the Council’s resources.
c) Paragraph 5.1 (a) – Register and where appropriate, disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests that I am obliged to declare under the Localism Act and associated regulations.
d) Paragraph 3 (j) Always treat people with respect, including the organisation and public I engage with and those I work alongside;
* The report adds: “Mr Lewin did not consider the Councillor Ali had acted dishonesty in that he had not made any personal gain by his failing to declare his DPIs and that he had not deliberately sought to conceal his interests.”
Councillor Ali accepts that he “technically “ breached the (parts of) the code.
We have approached Coun Ali for comment.