On July 19th, we published our consolidated Hall of Shame list of those councillors in Scotland we felt had brought real shame to their public calling by improper, ignoble or otherwise reprehensible actions—whether they had admitted it or whether this had resulted in their losing their jobs or not. In order to grade the seriousness of the offense we had awarded between one and four blots (with no-one blatantly crass and amoral enough to deserve the most serious ‘5-blot’ category).
But solidly in the ☁☁☁☁ category “Substantial or systemic abuse of position or dishonesty conviction” was John Holden, until this week Labour councillor for the Inverness South ward of Highland Council.
This week John got his comeuppance when he was given the maximum sentence possible of a year in jail at Inverness Sheriff Court. This means that he will be disqualified automatically from continuing as a councillor. A former labourer and union official, he was suspended by the Labour Party when the case came to light. He was found guilty of falsely claiming £34,000 income support, council tax benefit of £6,925.24 and single occupancy of more than £2,309.73.
But he had lived for long periods with Mary Ewan, who later became his wife, and had amassed savings of about £250,000 during the period in question, between 2002 and 2008. Some of the most damning evidence about his living arrangements came from his own son.
In pronouncing sentence, Sheriff Ian Abercrombie said: “You are a liar and a cheat. You have deliberately and repeatedly lied to protect your undisclosed income over a number of years, the scale of which is simply breathtaking.”