'Hate campaigns, sexual slurs and Up Helly Aa' – parting shots of controversial council chief

THE former chief executive of Shetland Islands Council has launched an astonishing series of personal attacks against three leading members of the local authority.

David Clark left his post with a "golden handshake" of 306,000 after an eight-month spell in office which was mired in scandal and controversy.

Scotland's local government watchdog, the Accounts Commission, is due to hold a public hearing into the council's handling of the departure of its controversial chief executive next week.

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In his written submission to the commission, published yesterday, Mr Clark claims that Sandy Cluness, convener of the islands council, began moves to take disciplinary action against him at the instigation of his Up Helly Aa squad at Shetland's annual fire festival. He also claims that Jonathan Wills, the councillor who accused Mr Clark of threatening him with violence, led a "hate campaign" against him from his first days in post.

And he says Cecil Smith, chairman of the licensing board, raised "untrue" rumours that he and his partner had been banned from a Lerwick pub for having sex in a public toilet.

In his submission to the commission, Mr Clark claims that moves to oust him began after a tabloid newspaper ran an "inaccurate and derogatory story" about his private life.

Last October, Mr Clark was cleared of allegations that he threatened Mr Wills with violence.

In his submission, Mr Clark alleges: "Councillor Wills has led a hate campaign from my earliest weeks in the job. Councillor Wills has attacked myself, my staff, my loved ones and family with lies, innuendo and rumour."

Mr Clark also claims: "Councillor Smith made a direct approach to the publican of a public bar, as chair of the licensing board, raising (untrue) rumours that my partner and I had been banned for having sex in the toilet. "

Councillor Cluness rejected the claims last night. He said: "It's just total and utter nonsense – even if you could conjure up such a situation. I am in an Up Helly Aa squad, but I can't remember them discussing David Clark."

Mr Wills added: "The facts will show otherwise. These are sad fantasies."

Mr Smith could not be contacted for comment.

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In his submission, Mr Clark also criticises, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, Alistair Carmichael, and Tavish Scott, the MSP for Shetland, for becoming embroiled in the furore over his decision to "delete" the post of the assistant chief executive, Willie Shannon.

He states: "The MP and MSP reported this matter to Audit Scotland and launched an attack through the media without seeking clarification of any details from myself.

"I consider the MP and MSP have interfered inappropriately in local government business and on this occasion have used Audit Scotland to add credence to their cause."

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