ACCUSATIONS flew as embattled District Councillor Esmond Jenkins came face to face with Watermark chief executive Max Thomas on day three of the Standards Board hearing.

The hearing into a range of alleged breaches of the code of conduct councillors are required to conform to has been held at CDC’s Cirencester offices since Tuesday, and has heard accusations that Cllr Jenkins bullied officers and was abusive towards an employee of property developer Watermark.

Mr Thomas said he believed that Cllr Jenkins had “victimised” his company in making claims of corruption and involvement with disgraced former Cotswold Water Park Society boss Dennis Grant.

Cllr Jenkins argued he felt doing this was part of his role as an elected councillor.

“It’s my responsibility to raise these issues, even if it’s unhelpful to you and your business,” he said.

Mr Thomas replied: “I agree you should be raising these issues, but not that you should be capitalising on them.”

Mr Thomas said he had raised his concerns about Cllr Jenkins, who he had never met in person before today, after the incident at Cotswold Country Park and Beach where he allegedly abused Watermark employee William Gibney.

“Perhaps as a councillor you should be a little better behaved,” he added.

Cllr Jenkins accused Mr Thomas of having a vested interested in claiming he had assaulted Mr Gibney.

“As far as I’m concerned, there are commercial interests in silencing me and what better way to do that than bring an assault charge against me,” he added.

Mr Thomas replied that he had been very concerned after Mr Gibney had reported the incident to him.

“We can’t have a lunatic running around the site,” he added.

“I can assure you I am in sound mind,” Cllr Jenkins replied.

Also appearing in front of the hearing today was CDC legal adviser Bhavna Patel, who said she had told head of planning Philippa Lowe, who appeared before the hearing yesterday, that she was able to make a complaint against Cllr Jenkins.

However, Mrs Patel clarified that she did not advise Miss Lowe whether or not she should do so.

Cllr Jenkins and Standards Board for England representative Galina Ward also spent some time today going over the points of the report he disputes.

Cllr Jenkins pointed out that a number of the testimonies conflicted in the report.

Speaking to the four-person committee, Cllr Jenkins said he had been disappointed with the culture he had faced since being elected to CDC.

“Inevitably my efforts on behalf of my ward upset some people, particularly Mr Thomas, who rightly saw me as an obstacle to his commercial interests.”

Continuing, Cllr Jenkins hit out at the report assembled by Standards for England.

“However you care to look at this affair, it has a whiff about it,” he said.

“Much of the evidence assembled by the investigators from Standards for England was accepted by them without challenge, without any proper test of veracity.

“I said what I believed, did it with the best of intentions on behalf of the people I represent – if I am to be chastised for that them democracy is the real victim.”

Closing his case, Cllr Jenkins said the process had put him and his family through “ten months of turmoil” and was a “dangerously flawed process”.

He continued to hit out at Standards for England, accusing the report’s author of not fully understanding the evidence that had been presented against him.

“You relied on tittle-tattle and unfounded guff and fitted the report to suit your pre-determined opinions,” he said.

“You did not test the voracity of the statements out before you – what we’ve sat through are the opinions of one bureaucrat.”

Applause broke out from the public gallery as he finished his statement.

The committee retired to consider the evidence they have heard, and will set out what they consider to by the facts of the case tomorrow morning.

For live updates on the hearing, which is due to conclude tomorrow, follow @IanC1985 on Twitter, or see the Standard website for full reports.