ARGYLL and Bute Council’s SNP Group has joined the clamour for an independent investigation into the case of a councillor who claims he was deliberately silenced by officials.

Group leader Councillor Sandy Taylor confirmed that the group will be backing the calls for an independent inquiry into the case of Mike Breslin, with a statement to be made ahead of the council meeting to discuss the case.

“There are undoubtedly a lot of questions to be answered,” said Taylor, “and this inquiry undoubtedly will need to be done.”

The SNP Group’s decision followed a unanimous vote by Argyll and Bute SNP Constituency Association to call for an independent inquiry.

Local MSP Mike Russell has also called for the inquiry and an online petition calling on Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart to open an investigation into the Breslin case has reached its target of 800 signatures, with the target rising to 1,000.

Breslin was cleared by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life and the Standards Commission’s independent panel on 14 of the 15 complaints made about him by four current and senior Argyll and Bute council executives.

They included the former chief executive Sally Loudon, who is now the chief executive of Cosla, and current Argyll and Bute chief executive Cleland Sneddon.

The only finding against Breslin was a “lack of courtesy” to a fifth council official, Head of Governance Charles Reppke, who did not make any complaint. Breslin is considering an appeal for his subsequent censure.

The panel found that Breslin’s emails to the officials were protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of speech, including “robust” expressions in a political arena.

The calls for an inquiry into the complaints against Breslin follow claims that the officials acted to silence him over his views on the controversial sale of Castle Toward School and the safety at Rothesay Harbour.

By complaining to the commissioner about alleged breaches of the Local Government Code of Conduct, officials also ensured all correspondence between themselves and Breslin on the matters had to cease.

In his letter to council leader Dick Walsh, Russell said: “Specifically answers are required to questions concerning why and how these unprecedented complaints were instituted.”

Other Argyll and Bute councillors have voiced their backing for Breslin’s stance.

The four officials have yet to fully answer questions by The National about their actions.

The National attempted to contact councillor members of the council administration last night but none could be reached.