Newport Council has ‘no powers’ to disqualify councillor who solicited a sex worker
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
Newport City Council has said it has no powers to disqualify a councillor who admitted soliciting a sex worker.
At magistrates court today, Independent councillor Chris Evans pleaded guilty to soliciting a sex worker on Commercial Road, Pill in May last year.
In a statement the council said: “Newport City Council was unaware that Cllr Evans intended to plead guilty. It will now consider its position following further discussions with Cllr Evans.
“However, the council has no powers to disqualify him from his role as a city councillor.”
The Rogerstone councillor lost his job as a senior advertising manager at Newsquest, which publishes the South Wales Argus and The National, after being caught with a sex worker in his car.
A police officer who was chasing a wanted man through the Asda car park at the time recognised Cllr Evans due to his position in the community.
At magistrates’ court, Rod Young, representing Cllr Evans, said: “He did not go through with it and no money ever changed hands. He accepts a provision was made for an arrangement of sexual services. The officer recognised him. Had he not been a well-known face, he would not have been here today.”
The defendant was conditionally discharged for 12 months and ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs and a £22 victim surcharge.
Speaking to the LDRS, Cllr Evans described his appearance in court as a “tough day” but would not comment further.
Code of conduct
Elected councillors in Wales have to carry out their duties under a code of conduct.
According to the website of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, a councillor may be in breach of the code if they bring their council into “disrepute”.
Page 37 of the code of conduct states: “As a member, your actions and behaviour are subject to greater scrutiny than those of ordinary members of the public. You should be aware that your actions in both your public and private life might have an adverse impact on the public perception of your office as a member, or your authority as a whole.”
The code adds: “Dishonest and deceitful behaviour will bring your authority into disrepute, as may conduct which results in a criminal conviction, especially if it involves dishonest, threatening or violent behaviour, even if the behaviour happens in your private life.”