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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 August 2005, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK
Council must probe laptop claims
Colin Anderson and Aileen Handy
The councillors deny any wrongdoing
A council has been ordered to resolve allegations over "inappropriate use" of computers by two councillors.

Former Sunderland Council leader Colin Anderson and Cabinet member Aileen Handy were suspended from the ruling Labour party last November.

Their suspension followed routine maintenance checks of council-issued laptops, which it is claimed revealed access to "inappropriate websites".

The Standards Board for England says the issue must be resolved locally.

Both councillors denied any wrongdoing and expressed shock and dismay at the claims, when the matter was referred to the local authority watchdog.

Both councillors had the party whip withdrawn, but still serve on the council.

'Pornographic sites'

In a statement, the Standards Board for England said: "We can confirm that both these investigations have been completed.

"In both cases, the matters have been referred to the monitoring officer of the local authority for determination at a standards committee hearing."

A spokesman for Sunderland City Council said: "We can confirm that this matter has now been referred back to Sunderland City Council's standards committee, who will determine what, if any, appropriate action should be taken within the agreed procedural timescale."

At the time of the allegations Mr Anderson said: "I am co-operating fully with the investigation that is under way, but I categorically state I have not accessed any pornographic sites via council computers or any other computers."

Ms Handy said she was "devastated" at her suspension and added in a statement: "I think it's scandalous it has gone public at this stage.

"I have not been told the exact nature of the allegations and I'm in touch with my solicitors."


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