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(UK) Warks: Probe over 3 councillors who questioned sped numbers continues

May 30, 2024, BBC News: Special needs comments probe 'to end in June'

An investigation into three councillors whose comments about increasing special needs demand sparked anger and protests is due to conclude in early June.

Warwickshire County Council started investigating councillors Jeff Morgan, Brian Hammersley and Clare Golby after what they said during a meeting in January.

The authority confirmed it had received hundreds of complaints since the inquiry launched but only 25 were set to be heard in full.

Apologies on behalf of all three members were issued by the council but they have all since declined to comment further.

The updated timetable for the conclusion of the investigation was published in an update on the county council’s website.

It was issued with the caveat that the council’s “commitment to a thorough investigation” meant it could take longer.

The complaints erupted after the comments were made during a discussion about the demand for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision at the January meeting.

During it, Mr Morgan questioned whether some children receiving funding were "just really badly behaved".

Mr Hammersley asked if "something in the water" was increasing special needs cases while Ms Golby asked whether the increase in cases could be linked to social media sites where "families are swapping tips on how to get their children diagnosed".

The council confirmed the number of formal complaints submitted was “in the hundreds”.

Claire Ward, of Birmingham law firm Anthony Collins Solicitors, was hired to carry out the investigation which selected a “representative sample” of complainants for interview.

The council said about 25 people have been identified for the process and all other complaints were read and considered.

A statement from the authority continued: “Given the large number of complaints received, it would be impractical and cause unnecessary delays if the investigator were to interview every complainant.

“Instead, whilst we will share all complaints with the investigator, they will directly engage with a representative sample of complainants.”

The council also said the cost of the external legal help was £20,000 [$25K]-£30,000 [$38K] and it had chosen the “most cost-effective approach”.


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