STANDARDS watchdogs are to investigate Kirklees Labour group leader Mehboob Khan.
The move comes after he ran up a £1,300 bill using a council phone.
The leaders of the council’s Tory, Liberal Democrat and Green parties have reported Clr Khan to the Kirklees Council standards committee and are asking them to investigate.
BNP group leader Clr David Exley has reported the matter to the Standards Board for England.
Clr Khan is the Labour Party’s national representative on the board and there have been calls for him to step down while any inquiry takes place.
It is expected to take several weeks before the Standards Board decides whether it will lead the inquiry or whether it can be handled locally.
Clr Khan ran up the bill between April and October last year using a phone in the Labour group office.
Many of the calls were to a friend in Uzbekistan.
Clr Khan is paying the bill back at £100 a month, but says council bosses tolod him he did not break the local government code of conduct.
The council says councillors and officers are permitted to use phones for ‘appropriate and moderate personal use’ and procedures are in place to recover the cost of those calls.
But Clr Kath Pinnock, leader of the Kirklees Liberal Democrats, said it is vital that the matter was investigated independently and thoroughly.
She added: “It is a serious issue and for the benefit of Clr Khan and the rest of us it needed reporting.
“If people think we can make private phone calls at council taxpayers’ expense that rubs off on us all.
“We need to establish what’s gone on. If he has only paid up after being confronted with the abuse of the phone service that would be very serious.
“If it didn’t go to the standards committee there would always be a whiff of suspicion hanging around.”
Clr Pinnock said she and the other group leaders were also unhappy that Clr Khan was being allowed to pay the bill at £100 a month.
She said: “Council tax payers face similar-sized bills for a year and if they fall behind even by one month they are required to pay the rest of the year’s balance up front.
“Yet here we have a senior councillor being allowed to have an interest-free loan of over £1,000 for 13 months.”
Clr Khan said it would be inappropriate to comment while the matter was under investigation. He said he would co-operate fully with any inquiry.