SCOTTISH minister and local MSP Michael Russell has called for an independent inquiry into the case of Argyll and Bute councillor Michael Breslin, who in turn has called for the resignation of council leader Dick Walsh over the affair.

Breslin was cleared on 14 of the 15 complaints made about him by four senior Argyll and Bute council executives, including the former chief executive Sally Loudon who is now the chief executive of Cosla.

He has confirmed to The National that he may appeal against the only finding against him, that of a “lack of courtesy” to a fifth council official, who did not make any complaint about Breslin.

Last night Walsh denied having any input into the complaints procedure, but did not outrightly deny having prior knowledge of them.

Breslin replied: “I think he has to resign as it is absolutely inconceivable that at the very least he did not know about the complaints beforehand.”

Russell has written to Walsh calling for an inquiry into the whole matter of the complaints against Breslin, which some have speculated was to silence him over his strong views on the controversial issues of the sale of Castle Toward School and safety at Rothesay Harbour.

Russell said: “Specifically, answers are required to questions concerning why and how these unprecedented complaints were instituted, the level of council resources required to draw up and take them forward, how such expenditure and staff time was authorised as it was never debated by councillors, the issue of collusion between senior officials and senior councillors in instigating, preparing and taking forward these complaints, and the use of threats of complaints and other sanctions to ensure that councillors follow official advice.

“I therefore write to request that you ensure that the council now accepts the reality of the situation, acknowledges in public that Breslin has been exonerated and gives the support of your administration to an independent inquiry.”

The National asked Walsh a series of questions and we give his full reply. We asked how the council administration see the matter of the censure of Breslin going forward, and asked: “What is your reaction to the fact that the vast majority of the complaints against Breslin were dismissed?”

We asked whether former chief executive Sally Loudon, chief executive Cleland Sneddon and executive directors Pippa Milne and Douglas Hendry would have made their complaints without Walsh knowing about them beforehand.

We asked: “Can you confirm or deny that you were aware of their complaints before they were made to the Commissioner, and did you at any time discuss the matter with any of them or give them advice?”

The National also asked: “Given that the council has a code of conduct and an internal grievance procedure, can you explain why the four complainants did not make use of that procedure?

We added: “Breslin is asking you to resign. What is your reaction?”

We also asked: “You will have received a communication from Mike Russell MSP. Do you have any comment to make on that?”

Walsh replied: “To assist with your understanding, it is worth pointing out that as leader of the council I have, and have had, no executive authority or indeed input into the complaint procedure which resulted, I understand, in the Standards Commission censuring councillor Breslin.

“I would confirm that we are still awaiting the written decision from the Commission which will be reported to a future council meeting.

“I will be responding directly to Mr Russell’s communication in due course.”