| 21 Dec 2023

Matt Lewin is the lead author of Cornerstone on Councillor’s Conduct and Standards in Public Life.

This will be included in our Local Government Law.

What first drew you to practising in public law?

Before training as a barrister, I worked as a housing officer for the London Borough of Camden, a job which I loved and still miss. Practising in public law – particularly local government law – was a natural fit, having seen how a public authority works from the inside.

What has been the biggest change councillors’ conduct and standards in public life since the last edition, Cornerstone on Councillor’s Conduct?

In the last few years, we’ve seen that public concern about poor standards of conduct among our elected representatives has decisively influenced political events. From Jackie Weaver to Partygate, it is evident – at all levels of government – that politicians’ behaviour all too often falls short of public expectations. 

It also seems that those public expectations have become more exacting, particularly when it comes to freedom of speech issues – with public authorities often caught in the middle.  We address this knotty area in Part 3 of the new edition.

Are there any developments you foresee taking place in councillors’ conduct and standards in public life over the next few years?

A potential change of government could result in meaningful change to the legal and policy framework underpinning standards in public life. One particularly interesting development is Labour’s proposal to create an Integrity and Ethics Commission which could have far-reaching powers to regulate and improve standards in public life.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Getting to the train station on time.