Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Dee Doocey has used her official Greater London Authority email facility to “thank” party members for supporting her in the party’s internal election to select candidates for next year’s GLA elections.
In her capacity as an Assembly Member Ms Doocey sends a regular email newsletter detailing her work on behalf of Londoners. Yesterday she started her most recent edition “by thanking everyone who voted for me in the ballot to select the Lib Dem list for next year’s London Assembly elections. Thanks to your support, I won second place on the list.”
She went on to say: “It is because of this ballot and a number of recent by-election campaigns that I haven’t issued these newsletters as frequently as I would have liked. Normal service has now been resumed!” The rest of the newsletter goes on to discuss her work as an Assembly Member.
When asked by this publication to comment on the suitability of using her official email address to thank party members for their support in a wholly internal selection process the Assembly Member referred us to an officer responsible for ensuring the correct use of GLA resources who told us:
“In essence, the GLA rules forbid resources being used on direct political campaigning. Therefore Dee would have been in breach of these rules had she used GLA resources to campaign FOR selection to the list, but in reporting back (in part as explanation for why there had not been more regular newsletters) where she WAS on the list I judge that the words Dee uses in her newsletter are OK.”
The Code of Conduct governing use of official resources states that members must “when using or authorising the use by others of the resources of the Authority…ensure that such resources are not used for political purposes unless that use could reasonably be regarded as likely to facilitate, or be conducive to, the discharge of the functions of the authority or of the office to which the member has been elected or appointed.”
When put to them that it was disingenuous to describe the section as merely “reporting back” on the delays when it was headed “A big ‘thank you’!” and specifically thanked party members who had backed her the officer responded by saying “its probably an interpretation as to the importance of each paragraph” of the newsletter but undertook to “reflect on this when next approving such a newsletter.”
Ms Doocey has strongly denied any wrongdoing. Responding our enquiries and an email advising her that we would be referring the matter to the standards committee she said:
“I would never abuse my position and have always been meticulous in declaring absolutely everything and complying fully with ALL rules whereever I have worked
So I assure you that I did not knowingly do anything wrong. But if you decide to refer this to the standards committee that is your decision and I do not consider it appropriate for me to try to persuade you otherwise.”