Glasgow Labour councillor banned from public office over rape comments

Early last year I briefly reported on the shocking comments about the alleged rape of a child made by one of its Glasgow councillors, William O’Rourke.

The case has now finally worked its way through the system and he has been banned from holding public office:

A Glasgow Labour councillor has been banned from holding office over alleged comments he made about a case involving the alleged rape of a nine year old.

William O’Rourke, who represented the Greater Pollok ward, was suspended from the party last March after he allegedly suggested that the young victim may have been a willing participant and that the girl “wanted it to happen”.

O’Rourke is alleged to have made the comments at a personnel appeals committee hearing into the case after the care worker who was dismissed for allegedly having sex with the child, O’Rourke is said to have asked if the girl “wanted it to happen” because no force was used and that she was not a “typical innocent nine year old”.

He also made a comment about the child’s mother being a prostitute and went on what the Police Officer described as a ‘rant’ about promiscuous children and the need to lower the age of sexual consent.

Glasgow Labour were accused of closing ranks in order to protect O’Rourke after it emerged Baillies Jim Scanlan and Jim Todd were also present at the hearing, but had said nothing.

O’Rourke’s comments were only made public after a Strathclyde Police Officer who was a witness at the hearing reported concerns and an official complaint was lodged with the Standards Commission for Scotland, which regulates the behaviour of politicians.

UPDATE: Apologies, the story I quoted from above is a little misleading as in fact the Public Standards Commissioner concluded that O’Rourke had not broken the code of conduct. What happened was that the Labour Party nonetheless decided to ban him from standing as a Labour candidate for public office in future.

* Mark Pack is Party President and is the editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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  • Interesting. We still have a Standards Commission for Scotland. In England we will shortly lose our Standards framework nationally, to be replaced by local (considerably weaker) arrangements. Under the new arrangements, no-one will be able to be banned from local government office. Before long we will have scandals breaking out because there is nothing we can do about those who persistently exceed the bounds of free speech, the bullies, and those who use local power cliques to protect them from effective action. Particularly interesting in this report that others in the Labour Party locally were accused of “closing ranks”. Any of us familiar with human behaviour know that is the tendency.

  • May one ask what is the point of this article?…Labour suspended the councillor almost a year ago

  • Sorry, Simon, the voting process is absolutely not the right process to deal with this. No-one could say that process is the best one to look at details of evidence objectively, it would become either a lynch mob, or a popularity contest about some of the possible local opponents of the councillor accused. If you are working, it is expected there is a fair disciplinary process in place. That shouldbe precisely the same for people who are elected. The fact that they got where they are through a process of election shouldn’t put them above the ability to hold them to account objectively.

    If you were accused, or if you were a concerned person in a local community with a ruling clique, would you want to have these thing decided by a byelection? Or by people selected for their understanding and knowledge of local government, objectivity, and personal distance from the situation being judged?

  • Richard Swales 8th Feb '12 - 7:48pm

    I totally agree with Simon McGrath, and I would add that he would be unlikely to get the Labour nomination.

  • A total idiot – but I agree with Frank Fisher. This was NOT a public meeting remember; the alleged comments were made at a personnel appeals committee.

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