London, Mar 14 (ANI): When a British councillor left a planning committee discussion for just 25 seconds to get a cup of tea, he would not have thought that he would land himself into an investigation, and 7,000 pounds of taxpayers' money would be wasted on it.
Tory Sean Holden had stepped out of a meeting on proposals for a new multi-million pound private hospital because he was feeling thirsty, but unknown to him he was followed out of the chamber by a monitoring officer.
After Holden came back to the meeting, he was told by planning boss and fellow Tory Elizabeth Thomas that he would not be allowed to vote on the application because he had not been present for the entire debate.
The ruling was not met with favour and sparked a row, with Holden refusing to back down and putting his vote in regardless.
Thomas, the chair of the planning committee, immediately reported the matter to the council's Standards Assessment Sub-Committee and demanded a full investigation.
The probe, which went on for eight months, and cost 7,371 pounds, ended this week with Holden cleared of all the allegations.
"It was such a petty thing to cost so much - and taxpayers will be footing the bill," the Sun quoted Holden, on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Kent, as saying.
"It was just a cup of tea. I hadn't had a drink for an hour or so - I was thirsty," he said.
The whole investigation is said to have been a wastage of taxpayers' money.
"This is a complete waste," Mark Wallace, of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said.
"People want their council tax to be used on essential services not for politicians to squabble," he stated.
Councillor Roy Bullock, the leader of Tunbridge Wells Council, defended Thomas' decision.
"It is only right that if the chairman considers that a councillor did breach the Code of Conduct then the matter has to be tested by the Local Standards Board," he said.
"I would have thought that the councillor, whose opinion appears to be that he has been totally exonerated, would have welcomed the council expending this sum to clear his name," he added. ANI)