Falkirk councillor shouted ‘sieg heil’ at provost

A councillor and army ­veteran has been disciplined for shouting “sieg heil” during a council meeting.

Robert Spears. Picture: JP
Robert Spears. Picture: JP
Robert Spears. Picture: JP

Falkirk councillor Robert Spears was reprimanded by the local authority’s standards commission after shouting the Nazi greeting at ­provost Pat Reid ­during a debate.

Independent councillor Mr Spears, a Territorial Army captain with the Royal Engineers who did two tours of duty in Iraq, was also accused of ­performing a Nazi-style salute during a “heated” council debate.

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On Tuesday, the standards commission ruled he breached paragraph 3.2 of the councillors’ code of conduct.

This paragraph states councillors must “respect the chair, your colleagues, council employees and any members of the public present during meetings of the council”, and, “comply with rulings from the chair in the conduct of the business of these meetings”.

The decision was made at the end of a two-day hearing in Falkirk’s Park Hotel. Mr Spears was formally censured by the standards commission.

He had been accused of being disruptive during a council meeting last May, directing a straight-arm salute at Mr Reid and saying sieg heil, reportedly a protest at a decision that had been made.

Mr Spears insisted that he did not make the Hitler’ salute but did admit saying sieg heil, German for “hail victory”.

Falkirk Council leader Craig Martin said of the case: “Councillor Spears has accused myself and colleagues of spreading ­malicious and politically motivated allegations about him but, after the decision, this is now the time for him to apologise to us and his constituents.

“If he had said sorry for his behaviour at the time instead of denying it, we wouldn’t have needed a hearing but it has now cost taxpayers thousands of pounds.”

Mr Spears said: “I am disappointed at the outcome.

“It was a throwaway quip which was apologised for at the time and later to Pat Reid who, on oath, accepted this. ­Labour member Dennis Goldie took it to the standards ­commission.

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“All other witnesses apart from Craig Martin and Dennis Goldie heard the ­apology.”

A spokeswoman for the standards commission said the sanction applied to Mr Spears was a censure – a formal expression of disapproval – but he will face no further action.

This is not the first time Mr Spears has found himself facing a complaint about his conduct.

In 2011, it was alleged that he had breached the same part of the code during a meeting of the council’s planning committee.

It had been claimed by ­Councillor William Buchanan, the then-convener of the committee, that he had “interrupted submissions by other councillors and the applicant… stared and made faces” at another member, and made critical comments about their input to the meeting.

Mr Spears was found not to have contravened the code on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence.