I am not surprised, but am delighted nonetheless, that my friend and Aberdeenshire Councillor Paul Johnston has been cleared by the Standards Commission of any breach of the Councillor's Code of Conduct in connection with remarks he made in opposition to Donald Trump's controversial planning application.
Paul took the very brave step of reporting himself to the Commission rather than wait for Aberdeenshire Council to do it.
I don't know all the ins and outs of the dynamics of the Aberdeenshire Council Lib Dem administration, but I have known Paul, Debra Storr and Martin Ford for a very long time and all 3 of them are dedicated, honest and thoroughly decent public servants.
All 3 now languish either on the fringes or outside the Aberdeenshire Council Group. Until I heard Martin Ford speak at the Scottish Liberal Democrats conference in February last year, I hadn't really understood why he had used his casting vote to refuse the application when he could have saved himself a lot of personal grief by voting to defer the decision, which was the only other option available at the time. He explained so well that it was the proper procedure that he should do that and that any other applicant would simply have lodged an amended application.
Martin was stripped of his key planning chairmanship. A few months later, Paul was threatened with the Standards Board by the Chief Executive of Aberdeenshire Council so he took the matter there himself. In a breathtakingly unjust act of pre-judgement, his fellow councillors decided he was guilty before the investigation was complete. Debra's actions at that meeting, supporting Paul, led to her eventual resignation before she was expelled from the Group. Aren't her actions, defending him from what was essentially a kangaroo court, in the DNA of anyone calling themselves a Liberal?
Now, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since the rejection of Trump's application. A lot of arguments have been had, toys have been expelled from prams at a huge rate of knots.
However, it is time to draw a line under all of this and move on. I believe that it's vital that Paul, Martin and Debra play a full role in the Lib Dem Group again. We can't afford to lose good people like them.