Code of Conduct report sides with Newcastle Council CEO as part of investigations into Scott Neylon letters

An investigation report looking into Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath’s alleged links to letters written to the Newcastle Herald under the name Scott Neylon has been released.

The Code of Conduct report, undertaken by Pinnacle Integrity, was requested off the back of claims from Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery who believes the Council CEO to be behind the letters, which had been criticising the MP, along with a number of other council critics.

Mr Bath has always denied the allegations.

Two allegations around the sharing of confedential information and the authoring of the letters were both pursued and according the report released on Wednesday, Pinnacle Integrity has found, on the balance of probabilities, that neither claims were supported by enough evidence to be substantiated.

“It has been established that Mr Neylon was motivated to write to the Newcastle Herald on matters relevant to the City of Newcastle, partly through advocating on matters where he held an interest, and also through his ongoing support and defence of Mr Bath. There is no evidence that Mr Bath incentivised Mr Neylon to author the articles nor did he reveal to Mr Neylon confidential information contained in the letters to the Newcastle Herald.

“It is considered unlikely and implausible that Mr Bath would have elected to use a pseudonym of a close personal friend, but rather choose a name without any legitimate connection to himself. That is, he could have adopted a ‘John Doe’ without any risk of connection to himself or any impact on his professional reputation. There is no indication that, if Mr Bath used a ‘John Doe’, it would have prevented the Newcastle Herald from publishing the content. Mr Bath would have remained anonymous and not attracted media and political scrutiny. To suggest that Mr Bath would have been motivated to entice a close personal friend to write the letters, whilst endeavouring to distance himself from the issue, is therefore considered unlikely

“Having considered all matters under investigation, there is insufficient evidence that Mr Jeremy Bath behaved in a manner that constitutes a breach of the Code of Conduct,” the report said.

Those findings are despite the investigators not contacting the Newcastle Herald.

Mr Bath has today released a statement saying he welcomes the outcome.

“I welcome the release of the full Pinnacle Integrity report into the independent investigation of a complaint against me lodged in July last year by Bob Cook. I have at all times made myself available to the Conduct Reviewer, undertaking both verbal and written interviews.

“I provided my written support for the release of the full report by Pinnacle Integrity almost four months ago. I understand why securing the release of the report has taken time, given the NSW Government’s model code of conduct policy makes a presumption against the release of the investigation report where no breach of the code has occurred. Releasing a report when the NSW Government’s own procedure states that it should not occur, is legally complex and time consuming.

“The report confirms what I have always said: I did not write letters to the Newcastle Herald published under the name of my friend Scott Neylon,” Mr Bath said.