Friday, December 19, 2008

Lib Dem - Drink Driving

A leading councillor has urged others to avoid repeating his mistake and becoming a convicted drink driver.
Cllr Simon McDougall, who is a member of Bersted, Bognor, Arun and West Sussex councils, said he deeply embarrassed by the actions which caused him to break the law.

The Christmas and new year period sees Sussex Police increase their efforts to k
eep the roads safe from those who drive after they have consumed too much alcohol.

The combination of festive parties and relaxed moods can bring the temptation to have too many drinks.

Cllr McDougall said his experience showed that no-one should have doubts about the consequences of behaving like that.

"I would urge everyone out there to heed the warnings issued by the police and not to make the mistake I did," he stated.

"My mistake was common of so many. I had a couple of drinks on an empty stomach, thought I was okay to drive when clearly I was not.

"There is not a day goes by that I do not regret my actions, particularly with the extra strain put on my family by needing to drive me around and putting alternative child-care arrangements in place because I was not able to guarantee the reliability of public transport.

"I have not been able to earn a proper income during this period and, indeed, the stigma of having a criminal record will haunt me for the rest of my life.

"Like everyone else, I am a human being and made an error in judgment.

"The fact is, I did have a choice and I made the wrong one.

"I am deeply embarrassed by my actions and regret this lapse in my otherwise blemish-free record as a councillor."

He was arrested for drink driving on November 14, 2007, in Aldwick Road.

He failed a roadside breath test and a subsequent test at Chichester police station. A second specimen confirmed the result.

He was found to have 46mg of alcohol in a 100ml of breath compared to the legal limit of 35mg.

He appeared before Chichester magistrates on January 22 this year and was banned from driving for a year.

This was reduced to nine months on condition he attended an alcohol awareness course.

He fulfilled the obligation and completed his ban at midnight on October 21. He was also fined £300 by the magistrates.

"While my arrest was caused by a borderline reading, I have learnt my lesson and will not make the same mistake twice," pledged Cllr McDougall.

He immediately reported his conviction to the district and county council officers who are responsible for the conduct of councillors.

Cllr McDougall has continued to serve his residents.


Conservative Councillor - Electoral Fraud

John Hall - Vote Rigging

A CONSERVATIVE activist from Hampshire has been found guilty of voting fraud.

John Hall was fined £1,000 for one count of using a false instrument with intent, but cleared of six further charges.

The 67-yearold former parish councillor, of Coriander Way, Whiteley, falsified proxy voting forms during the 2007 Winchester City Council elections.

Guildford Crown Court heard there was intense rivalry between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in the Whiteley ward where just a handful of votes could change control of the seat.

Hall had previously told police that he had “acted with naivety”.

He was arrested by police ten days before the 2007 vote.

At the election for Winchester City Council, the Conservatives retained power with 29 seats ahead of the Liberal Democrat with 23 seats, four independents and one Labour representative.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Lib Dem Councillor - Assault

A DISGRACED councillor who attacked his wife was a 'dog of war' who spent years behind bars for mercenary activities, the Manchester Evening News can reveal today.

Peter Wright, a Lib Dem for 10 years in Tameside, was given a 23-week prison sentence yesterday for assaulting his partner of 17 years.

During a previous court hearing, at which Wright admitted his guilt, he was described by his solicitor as having led a `blameless life and devoted himself to the service of others'.

Full Story and Source

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Conservative Councillor - Terrorism

Maria Gatland - Terrorist

Maria Gatland stepped down from her post at Croydon Council after being exposed as the author of a "kiss and tell" book that detailed her relationships with figures in the provisionals, written under her maiden name Maria McGuire.

Her secret past emerged following cryptic comments at a public meeting from a local Save Our Schools campaigner, who referred to the cabinet member for children, young people and learners as "Councillor McGuire".

The man, Peter Latham, then apologised for his comment, but added that he was a devotee of Irish history and had been reading a book about the IRA which "you, Councillor Gatland, might have heard about as you are Irish".

Croydon Council said news of Miss Gatland's experience with the IRA came as a "complete shock". She has been suspended from the local authority's ruling Conservative group pending an investigation

"The council has been advised that Maria Gatland has resigned as cabinet member for children, young people and learners," a council spokesman said.

"This follows emerging news of her connection to the Provisional IRA – which has come as a complete shock to Croydon. Officers understand she has been urged to resign from the council."

Miss Gatland's book – To Take Arms: My Year With The IRA Provisionals – was written after she became disillusioned with the provisionals, and fled to England. It describes how she once acted as an interpreter for the movement on an arms-buying trip to the Continent.

She decided to cut herself off from the movement after 20 bombs were detonated in Belfast on July 21, 1972, killing 11 people and injuring more than a hundred, according to the book.

"Almost for the first time, I wondered about the crippled and the widowed and the lives that had been changed forever," she wrote. She is believed to have been sentenced to death by the IRA as a result.

"I have resigned. I am not prepared to say anything more at this stage," she said.


Lib Dem Councillor - Paedophilia

Morris Lightfoot

Former Deputy Mayor Jailed For Grooming Teen

A former deputy mayor has been sentenced to eight months in prison for attempting to 'groom' a 13-year-old girl for sex.

Morris Lightfoot, 55, of Dryden Close, Bilton, Harrogate, was arrested in November last year, and appeared before York Crown Court on Tuesday for sentencing.

The 55-year-old was caught by a sting operation by an administrator on a social networking site.

The ex-Harrogate Deputy Mayor admitted three charges of asking the teenage girl for sex. He was placed on the sex offenders register and banned from working with children.

Nick Worsley, prosecuting, told York Crown Court Lightfoot had logged on under the name Moozzaa, and asked the girl if she wanted to lose her virginity to him, even though she had made it clear she was aged only 13.

However, the 'girl' was actually a male administrator of the site posing as the teenager, as part of the sting operation.

The Lib Dem councillor, who represented Bilton on Harrogate Borough Council and Bilton and Nidd Gorge on North Yorkshire county Council, was also automatically disqualified from being a councillor as a result of his sentence.

He had previously resisted calls to resign from both county and borough councils.


In depth coverage here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Conservative Councillor - Illegal Immigrants

A councillor fined £15,000 after three illegal immigrants were arrested working in his Chinese restaurant earlier this year has appealed.
The Canton Restaurant, run by Cllr Patrick Chung and his family, in Hatter Street, Bury St Edmunds, was just one of four takeaways raided by border and immigration officials in August, when a total of 10 workers were arrested.

Cllr Chung told the Bury Free Press at the time of the arrests that he believed he had been adhering to the correct employment procedure.

He has since appealed against the fine.

Cllr Chung, who is on Bury Town Council, said: "We just got a warning from them and then they raised the fine to £15,000. We are sending all the evidence and documents but I'm leaving all of it to my solicitor now."

Other takeaways raided were Top Garden, in High Baxter Street, Bury, New Hung Tao House, in Westgate Street, Bury, and Elmswell Chinese Takeaway, in School Road.

A spokeswoman for the UK Border Agency confirmed three immigration offenders were arrested by Felixstowe Enforcement Unit and a penalty of £15,000 was issued on September 1.

The spokeswoman said the appeal was still under consideration.

"If the penalty is upheld at the objection stage, the employer can then appeal to the courts. As this case is still within its appeal rights, we cannot comment on its status," she added.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Conservative MEP - Fraud

Den Dover

A senior Tory MEP was last night thrown out of the party as he faced a fraud investigation over an expenses scandal.

Brussels chiefs have already ruled that Den Dover is guilty of a 'conflict of interest' and 'unaccountable expenditure' by paying his staffing allowance to a family firm run from his £1million home.

David Cameron had previously expressed his determination to root out MPs and MEPs who abuse their expenses and allowances.

So hours after learning that Mr Dover had been censured, the Tory leader took the toughest action open to him.

Mr Dover can only be stripped of his seat by voters, but he has been expelled from the party and will be unable to seek re-election as a Tory.

The case has also been referred to the European anti-fraud unit OLAF.

In June, Mr Dover was forced to resign as Tory chief whip in Brussels after admitting that he paid £750,000 of taxpayers' money to MP Holdings, a company he set up after joining the European Parliament in 1999.

His wife Kathleen, 68, and daughter Amanda, 20, were handed £272,000 as directors.

EU officials said there was a conflict of interest involved because the former Chorley MP had an 'economic interest, or any shared interest, with the beneficiary' of the public money.

Mr Dover, 70, also spent £32,400 on repairs to the MP Holdings' headquarters, located at his home in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Conservative Councillor - Assault

Jon Herbert

When district councillor Jon Herbert's dog escaped and was taken to a local pound he was desperate to get his beloved pet back.

But when South Norfolk Council staff asked him to stump up the necessary fee to collect the stray, a row ensued which culminated in the 52-year-old former chief executive of Norwich Union International attempting to seize his chocolate Labrador and assaulting two members of staff caring for his pet.

Herbert was yesterday found guilty of two counts of common assault and ordered to pay a total of £1,315 after witnesses described how he became "aggressive and downright rude" when he arrived to pick up his errant pet from Meadowgreen Rescue Centre and Kennels at Hales Green, near Loddon, on February 7. He had denied the charges.

Magistrates in Norwich heard how Herbert's dog was taken to the kennels after escaping on Mulbarton common.

After learning of his pet's fate, Herbert contacted the council and was told he would need to pay a fee before collecting the dog.

He was asked to pay £47 to release the dog but he refused to pay this amount and instead said that he would be prepared to pay a lower fee of £32, Norwich Magistrates' Court heard.

But Herbert, who serves as Conservative district councillor for Mulbarton ward, was told by David Osborne, director of environmental health, recycling and safety at South Norfolk Council, that the higher fee was appropriate because his dog had gone astray before.

Mr Osborne said in a statement: "During the conversation Mr Herbert appeared to be very upset and angry because he had to pay to collect the dog. I advised councillor Herbert that we were keen to return his dog but needed £47 to release it.

"Mr Herbert said to me that he would go to the kennels himself and obtain his dog. I advised him that the dog was in our safe keeping and would not be released by the kennel until authorised to do so."

Mr Osborne said he advised Herbert not to go to the kennels and added that Herbert used a swear word several times during the conversation.

The court heard that despite this advice, Herbert, of Norwich Road, Mulbarton, went to the kennels where he blocked the entrance to the premises with his 4x4 vehicle.

The court heard he demanded to see his dog and entered an area of the kennels where the animal was being kept despite a notice which said no entry.

Magistrates were told he assaulted kennel maid Lisa Wigg after she tried to stop him taking his pet. He also assaulted the co-owner of the kennel Cherie Cootes.

Giving evidence, Miss Wigg said that when Herbert arrived he was agitated and that on numerous occasions he said he just wanted his dog.

"I asked him if he had paid the council and he said he hadn't because he was in dispute with them," she said.

Miss Wigg said that Herbert went to the paddock where his dog was being held.

"I said 'you are not allowed in there'. We had a tussle. I tried to stand my ground. He grabbed me, picked me up and moved me. He went and grabbed his dog out of the paddock. He was doing a lot of shouting."

Dennis Sawyer, who was at the kennels to rehome a dog at the time, described Herbert's demeanour as "aggressive and downright rude."

Herbert claimed in court that he found his dog in an atrocious condition in a sea of mud.

He accepted that he had used immoderate language and that he was agitated and that there had been contact between himself and the two women, but he said he had "absolutely no intention to cause any sort of violence".

Magistrates found him guilty of two counts of common assault and ordered him to pay £250 to each of the victims, a fine of £250 on each of the charges, £15 victim surcharge and £300 in prosecution costs, taking the total payable to £1,315.

Speaking after the hearing Herbert said: "It was clearly a difficult decision for them in weighing the evidence, given the time of over an hour it took in making a decision. I am obviously disappointed with the result."

Speaking after the case, South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller described Herbert's conviction as a "personal tragedy" and said he felt sorry for the people concerned.

"As a member of the Conservative group he was suspended when the case came up in February, and his application for membership renewal will be reconsidered at the new group meeting.

"As regards his role as a councillor, this is something we will have to discuss."


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lib Dem Councillor - Racial Abuse

A LIBERAL Democrat councillor has been fined after he racially abused a police officer after a six-hour drinking binge.

Christian Walker, 34, was arrested in a 24-hour Tesco in Water Street, Stockport. in the early hours of August 28 this year after using a racial slur to insult PC Patrick Mulhill, who is of Chinese and British ethnicity.

Walker, who represents Brinnington and Central ward, pleaded not guilty to a racially aggravated section five public order offence.

He said his comments were 'banter' and 'a joke' designed to put a 'smile on someone's face that went wrong', when he appeared before Trafford magistrates yesterday.

The court heard Walker, of Northumberland Road, Stockport, and a friend were 'yelping' and 'yodelling' as they walked into the store at 2am.

He described himself as 'plastered' and 'wrecked' after a pub crawl on a works leaving do, which included hours in a club where you could drink all night for £10.

Thomas McCabe, prosecuting, said: "Pc Mulhill was called over by a security guard, who was dealing with a situation involving this male.

"He intervened because they were arguing and told him: 'You're not going to be served because you're already drunk, your speech is slurred and your eyes are glazed'."

It was then that Walker racially abused the officer, who was said to be shocked and upset. Walker was arrested and taken to Cheadle Heath police station, where he then called Pc Mulhill a 'homosexual' in an attempt to 'wind him up'.

Under cross-examination, Walker said his skills as a local politician allowed him to gauge how people respond to what he said and he didn't believe the officer had been offended by his comments.

Andrew Evans, defending, said it was an attempt at a friendly joke that had gone horribly wrong and Walker was not being hostile to the Pc on racial grounds, but to a figure of authority refusing to let him have alcohol.

Mr Evans said: "This was not someone showing hostility on the basis of membership of a racial group, but cheek gone wrong.

"What we have here is a policeman arresting a drunk man who attempted to be cheeky and, in doing so, he uses a word the policeman later finds offensive."

Walker, a telephone researcher for north west MEP, Chris Davies, was fined £200 with £300 costs. He had defeated long-term Labour councillor, Maureen Rowles, with a majority of 255 and sits on Stockport Council's environment and economy scrutiny committee. He is also a governor of Brinnington early years centre.

UPDATE 5/11/08

A STOCKPORT councillor’s career is hanging in the balance after he was convicted of racially abusing a police officer.

Lib-Dem representative for Brinnington and Central ward, Christian Walker, 34, has been suspended from the party after he went on a six-hour bender and slurred racist abuse at PC Patrick Mullhill, who is of Chinese descent.

Walker had pleaded not guilty to racially aggravated harassment at Trafford Magistrates on Monday, but was found guilty, fined £200 and ordered to pay £300 costs.

Source and Full Story

Friday, October 24, 2008

Liberal Democrat - Benefit Fraud

A FORMER district councillor who fiddled his own authority out of £5,200 in benefits while jetting off on luxury foreign holidays, has been warned he could go to jail.

At Exeter Crown Court yesterday, Laurence Haydn-Higgins, 52, was found guilty of making false representations to obtain housing and council tax benefits.

The jury also convicted him of failing to promptly notify the authority that his working and child credit tax allowances had been increased.

Haydn-Higgins was released on bail while a pre-sentence report is prepared.

Recorder Michael Fitton told Haydn-Higgins: "You will be aware, having been convicted of these offences, that you face a prison sentence. I want you to discuss everything with the probation service so that I know the full effects on you of any sentence I impose."

During the trial, the jury heard that Haydn-Higgins failed to tell North Devon district council that his wife Julie was working and did not tell them that his tax credits had increased.

While he was operating the fraud, he and his family went on luxury holidays costing more than £10,000 to Tunisia, Turkey and the Dominican Republic. When he came back, he pleaded poverty and made an application for a hardship payment.

David Sapiecha, prosecuting, said the former councillor also had a building society account into which £5,000 was paid – £2,000 above the limit at which benefits could be applied for.

He said Haydn-Higgins who was councillor for the Barnstaple ward of Forches and Whiddon Valley from 2003 to 2007, must have known that his wife was working, but in the section on the form dealing with that there was a complete absence of information.

The offences came to light when Julie Haydn- Higgins let slip to a council officer who visited the family home that she was working.

Haydn-Higgins of Queen Street, Ilfracombe, had denied both charges.


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Friday, October 17, 2008

Conservative Councillor - Sex Attack

A FORMER Newton Abbot mayor has been arrested by police investigating an allegation he sexually assaulted a man.

Town councillor Allan Vizor, 63, of Newcross Park, Kingsteignton, has been questioned by police after a complaint was made to officers.

He was formally arrested under a section of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 after attending Torquay police station on the morning of Wednesday last week.

He was interviewed and has been released on police bail.

Cllr Vizor declined to comment yesterday.

Newton Abbot Town Council's clerk Phil Rowe confirmed he had spoken with Cllr Vizor and mayor Cllr David Corney-Walker, saying: "Both myself and the mayor are aware of the allegation and I have spoken to Cllr Vizor about the situation."

Cllr Corney-Walker confirmed he had been informed.

He declined to comment but said: "In such circumstances, I would always operate to the rule that the mayor is strictly neutral in every way, particularly where a criminal allegation has been made.

"I believe very much in British justice and that a person is innocent until proven guilty."

Cllr Vizor joined the town council in 1999 and held the mayoral role in 2003 to 2004.

He had previously worked as a traffic warden in Teignmouth.

A police spokesman said: "Police received a complaint of an alleged sexual assault that then led to a 63-year-old man from the Newton Abbot area being arrested in connection with that.

"He is currently on police bail to return to Torquay police station on Thursday, November 20."

Mr Vizor is also the Portreeve for the Court Leet and Court Barons to the Manorial Borough of Newton Abbot.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Labour Councillor quits after porn arrest

A Black Country councillor has resigned amid allegations he was in possession of child porn, it emerged today.

Walsall Labour councillor Jonathan Phillips stood down after being arrested and bailed by police.

The 53-year-old has represented the Birchills and Leamore ward for two years but resigned on Thursday.

Police are investigating claims that indecent images were found on equipment allegedly belonging to Mr Phillips. No charges have yet been brought.

When approached at his home in Eastbourne Street today Mr Phillips said: “Allegations have been made as a result of which I have resigned from the council, at this stage I felt that was the best course of action.”

Labour group leader councillor Tim Oliver confirmed the resignation saying: “Councillor Phillips in-formed me that he faces allegations linked to unsolicited but illicit material received through the internet.”


Friday, October 03, 2008

Labour - Councillor Fraud

Councillor John Holden will no longer be entitled to attend Labour group meetings or represent the party in any capacity.

The decision comes as colleagues moved to defend the councillor, claiming he is one of the hardest-working elected members of Highland Council.

The Inverness Courier exclusively revealed on its website yesterday afternoon that Councillor Holden's home in Drakies was searched on Monday in a joint operation by Northern Constabulary, Highland Council and fraud investigators from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

It is understood various items, including computer equipment and paperwork, were seized during the swoop which is believed to involve benefit fraud.

The Labour councillor — who was elected in 2007 to represent the Inverness South ward — was later questioned for several hours by police officers. When asked about the incident Councillor Holden said: "I've been advised not to comment."

A statement issued on behalf of the Labour Party said: "The councillor in question has been suspended from office or representation of the Labour Party, pending the outcome any investigations.

"This includes suspension from membership of the Highland Council Labour Group.

"Mr Holden will neither be entitled to attend Labour group meetings nor to represent the group in any capacity.

"This suspension does not imply that the Labour Party has taken a view on the outcome of any investigation, but is designed to protect the party's interest until this matter is finalised."

The council's Labour leader, Councillor Jimmy Gray, could not be contacted for comment yesterday and Councillor Michael Foxley, leader of the new rainbow alliance, did not want to comment on hearsay allegations.

Councillor Jim Crawford, a member of the newly-formed Independent Members Group, defended his fellow ward member. "A lot of people in Inverness South think very highly of him," he said.

A spokesman for Northern Constabulary confirmed a man had been questioned in relation to allegations of fraud.

Both Highland Council and the DWP confirmed they were working with police on the ongoing investigation.


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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Labour - Councillor Fraud

WELL-KNOWN Paisley Councillor Tommy Williams has been charged with fraud.

Mr Williams is still entitled to attend council meetings and represent his constituents.

He will only stop being a councillor if he gets a criminal conviction, the Standards Commission bars him from office, or he resigns.

In December last year the Paisley Daily Express revealed that Mr Williams was sacked from his social work job at Glasgow City Council amid claims of financial irregularities.

Mr Williams, who is Renfrewshire Council’s Paisley North West representative, was charged over the weekend.

A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police said: “A 55-year-old man is subject of a report to the procurator fiscal in relation to an alleged fraud.”

It is believed Mr Williams, who lives in Barshaw, has been charged in relation to his job as a community support worker at Glasgow City Council.

A source at Renfrewshire Council told us: “This is nothing to do with Tommy’s work as a councillor, but is linked to his job in the city.”

Mr Williams was a prominent figure in the local Labour group and, at a national level, he worked alongside Wendy Alexander during her successful campaign to become Labour's first female Scottish leader.

He was among many people who called for Paisley University’s name not to be changed to the University of the West of Scotland.

And he asked Renfrewshire Council to have a rethink on closing the Apex Centre in Ferguslie Park along with Morton Nursery School in Linwood and the nursery class at St Fergus’ Primary.


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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lib Dem MP = Assault

BAY MP Adrian Sanders launched a 'shocking and unacceptable' 'violent assault' on fellow Liberal Democrat Mark Littlewood, according to eyewitnesses found by the Herald Express.

Mr Sanders is said to have gone for the former Lib Dem press chief's throat in Monday's incident, which hit national headlines at the party's annual conference in Bournemouth.

A Lib Dem spokesman told the Herald Express that Mr Sanders 'pushed' Mr Littlewood, who then fell over a small wall.

The incident was widely reported as 'a kerfuffle'.

Lib Dem officials also issued a brief statement, confirming Mr Sanders had offered a full apology to Mr Littlewood.

But, citing an agreement with his party and Mr Littlewood, the Bay MP has steadfastly refused to either expand on that statement or explain the full detail of what happened or what prompted his actions.

But the Herald Express has now spoken to two eye-witnesses, who claim the incident was more serious than originally reported.

Bristol-based Lib Dem councillor Steve Comer and party member Julian Harris have both published internet blogs revealing what they say is the full extent of 49-year-old Mr Sanders 'unacceptable' assault on Mr Littlewood, which happened outside the party conference venue in Bournemouth on Monday morning.

Cllr Comer, who represents the Eastville ward on Bristol City Council, said he was 'horrified' by Mr Sanders' attack.

He said: "Clearly, for whatever reason, the red mist descended. I was pretty horrified at the time."

In his account on the Lib Dem Voice website, Cllr Comer wrote: "I was handing out leaflets for a lunchtime fringe meeting I was chairing for my trade union when Adrian Sanders pushed past me, almost knocking me over.

"He grabbed Mark Littlewood by the throat, and shook him, Mark then fell backwards over a low wall. Following the attack, I stood between Adrian and Mark to prevent a repetition.

"Stewards and Bournemouth Centre security staff then intervened, and I understand the incident was recorded on CCTV.

"To dismiss this as a 'kerfuffle' is inaccurate. I see that a written apology has been accepted, so that should suffice, and if it was a case of 'red mist' then that has probably been admitted. However this sort of behaviour is unacceptable and as Liberal Democrats we should say so."

Mr Harris published his version of events under a headline which read: 'Exclusive: Eye-Witness Account of Adrian Sanders' Violence'

He wrote: "Yesterday morning Adrian Sanders, Lib Dem MP for Torbay, violently assaulted someone outside the Bournemouth International Centre."

He continued: "Mark Littlewood, ex-PR guru of Cowley Street, was lingering outside the centre.

"Adrian Sanders approached, confronted him, then after only several moments of conversation suddenly attacked him, trying to grab his throat and pushing him backwards over the low wall that he had been standing in front of."

He continued on his online blog: "How can the party claim it is 'not a huge deal' when one of their MPs physically attacks someone at conference?

"There were several other witnesses to the assault, mainly people from Liberal Democrat groups or charities handing out fliers, and the consensus among us was that this is shocking and unacceptable.

"At an event which is supposed to be promoting reasoned discussion and debate within the Liberal Democrats, I find it strange that an MP is essentially allowed to get away with physical assault."

When these versions of events appearing on-line were put to Mr Sanders at his Paignton home yesterday, he said: "There are several versions of the story out there, including one that I punched him, so if I deny or confirm something, then I am commenting on the incident, and I can't do that."

When Mr Sanders was asked if he owed his constituents an explanation for the incident, he said: "What they know is that I don't break my agreements, that is what they will take from this.

"I am not going to comment, my constituents now know that I don't break my word."

When asked if he was accountable to his constituents, whose votes elected him into office first in 1997, then again in 2001 and most recently in 2005, Mr Sanders said: "No more. I have said all I am going to say. Stop. I'm going to put the phone down."

Following Monday's events, Mr Sanders met with party whips who decided he could keep his position as deputy chief whip.

The Liberal Democrats yesterday refused to answer further questions put to them by the Herald Express.

We asked if the agreement that Mr Littlewood, Mr Sanders and the party had reached was in accordance with party disciplinary procedure, and asked the partyto respond to the eye-witness accounts.

But Lena Pietsch, head of media for the Lib Dems, would not comment further on the incident, or the allegations made by witnesses saying: "The party only made one official statement relating to this matter. It was issued on Monday, September 15."

That statement read: "Following an incident this morning, Adrian Sanders MP has offered Mark Littlewood a full, written and unreserved apology for his conduct. On this basis Mark Littlewood will not be involving the legal authorities. Mark Littlewood, Adrian Sanders and the party do not intend to comment any further."

A spokesman for the Bournemouth International Centre, where the incident took place said there was no CCTV footage of the incident.

Mr Littlewood said he would not comment further, saying: "I stick by the statement that I agreed with the press office."


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Conservative Councillors suspended after sex claims


Two married Conservative councillors have been suspended amid allegations they have been hosting group sex sessions at their Wolverhampton home.

To their neighbours, David and Carol Bourne are pillars of the community. Both represent Wednesfield North and have been heralded as leading lights in the campaign to triumph in the next general election.

Their future is uncertain after being suspended, amid allegations they have been inviting people to their Merry Hill home to take part in sex acts.

Reports have claimed that the pair have been charging people up to £150 to take part in lewd activities behind the curtains of their immaculate end-of-terrace house in Telford Gardens.

The couple are alleged to have advertised their “services” in an adult magazine using the same contact number as their political websites.

One shocked neighbour, who did not want to be named, said the Bournes appeared to be a respectable couple.

He said: “We can’t believe it. We always thought they had a lot of visitors but we just assumed they were friends.”

Last year David, a governor at St Bartholomew’s Primary in Penn, was unveiled as one of a trio of councillors picked by the Tories to head up their Black Country campaign team.

The 66-year-old – first elected in 2003 – is one of the authority’s senior councillors, as cabinet member for children and young people and a member of the standards committee.

Carol, aged 49, was elected last year as commentators hailed the David Cameron-effect for the party winning extra seats in the city.

Councillor Peter Bilson, deputy leader of Wolverhampton City Council until Labour was ousted in the May elections, said: “If this is fact they would lead to resignations. This is not good for the council.”

Leader of the Tory-Lib-Dem alliance at Wolverhampton City Council Neville Patten declined to comment, saying only: “They are suspended pending an investigation.”

The couple were today unavailable for comment.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Labour Minister - Harassment

A Government Minister’s career was hanging in the balance last night after he admitted bombarding a young female aide with suggestive phone messages.

Ivan Lewis, a 41-year-old Health Minister, issued a statement apologising for sending dozens of mobile phone text messages to Susie Mason, a 24-year-old assistant who worked in his private office in Whitehall.

After complaining to her bosses, Ms Mason was moved to a different job before resigning from the Civil Service to join an accountancy firm.

Apologetic: Ivan Lewis with estranged wife Juliette

Apologetic: Ivan Lewis with estranged wife Juliette

‘He was obviously attracted to Susie, but his behaviour went well beyond acceptable office boundaries,’ a Whitehall source said.

‘It wasn’t just one or two messages - there were dozens, and the content was over-familiar. This must have spooked her enormously.’

It is understood the incident was reported to officials at the Cabinet Office at the time but no action was taken against Mr Lewis.

A Department of Health spokesman confirmed last night: ‘In 2007 a member of staff in the private office of Ivan Lewis informed her managers that she was unhappy with the nature of her working relationship with the Minister.

‘The situation was handled professionally and sensitively in full accordance with the employee’s wishes. She raised no formal complaint against the Minister and all the actions to resolve the matter were agreed with her. It was in that context that the decision was taken at the time not to pursue the matter further.

‘At her request she left the Minister’s office and was given another job in the department. She was a hard-working, extremely competent employee and we were sad to see her subsequently leave the department. The Minister in question apologises unreservedly.’

Aide Susie Mason, as pictured on her profile on the Facebook website

Aide Susie Mason, as pictured on her profile on the Facebook website

The revelation is the latest blow to Gordon Brown’s attempt to mount an autumn relaunch for his beleaguered administration, and evokes echoes of the way economic distress and sexual scandal combined to bring down John Major’s Government.

At the time Mr Lewis was making his unwelcome overtures in early 2007, he was approaching 40 and had just left his wife of 16 years, Juliette, and their two sons for a 50-year-old married councillor in his Bury constituency.

He separated from his wife in June 2006 after meeting Margaret Gibb at local political meetings. The relationship with Mrs Gibb is also believed to have now broken down.

Ms Mason, a slim, attractive brunette who is now 25, was appointed as one of Mr Lewis’s two Assistant Private Secretaries (APS) after he became a Minister at the Department of Health in May 2006.

After Ms Mason made her complaint, she was moved to a slightly more junior position elsewhere in the department before being offered a job of equivalent status to an APS, which lies near the bottom of the Civil Service career ladder but is regarded as a stepping stone to fast promotion.

Source and Full Story

Monday, September 01, 2008

Norfolk Tory jailed for rape

A former Tory politician has been jailed for six and a half years for five sex offences involving three girls, including one charge of rape.

Stephen Mullins, 52, formerly of Links Avenue, Hellesdon, was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court today .

The former head chef in the kitchen of the Bull pub in Reepham Road, Hellesdon had earlier admitted two offences of indecent assault against one girl under 14, rape involving the same girl, sexual assault on another girl aged 14 and assault on another young girl.

Mullins was a member of Norwich North Conservative Association for about two years and a Hellesdon parish councillor for about the same time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Labour Councillor - Homophobic attack

A senior councillor who hurled a 'homophobic' insult at a political rival's mother has been cautioned by police.

Deputy leader of Barking and Dagenham council Liam Smith is said to have told the 60-year-old 'shut up you f***ing fat dyke' and 'go back to the farmyard' after a trivial argument in the council chamber.

The Labour councillor lost his temper after watching the Conservatives snatch a seat in a by-election last month.

When Sue Connelly, mother of local Tory councillor Neil, got into a minor row with him at the count he verbally abused her in front of shocked onlookers.

Mrs Connelly, a married grandmother of eight who is not gay, was shocked by the tirade.

She said: 'I was so stunned that I didn't know what to say in reply. To be spoken to like that in the council chamber in front of so many people was awful. I felt humiliated.

'I am not a lesbian but I have nothing against them and that word should not be used to insult anyone. It was vicious, nasty and homophobic. He should step down or be told to go.'

The abuse happened after a Conservative candidate won a by-election in the Chadwell Heath ward on 3 July, claiming only the party's second seat on the Labour-controlled authority.

The Tories have struggled to win seats on the council where the British National Party is now the official opposition with 12 councillors.

The insult was reported to police and investigated by officers as a hate crime. A file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service but lawyers decided Mr Smith should receive a conditional caution rather than being prosecuted.

He was ordered to write a letter of apology to Mrs Connelly and warned about his future conduct.

Mrs Connelly, of Romford, works as the constituency secretary for Conservative shadow home affairs minister Andrew Rosindell.

Mr Rosindell, MP for Romford, said: 'This was a totally inappropriate way for the deputy leader of a council to behave in public.

'To insult awoman of Mrs Connelly's age, a grandmother, like that was outrageous. Mrs Connelly is a nice woman who is very popular locally and she did not deserve this.

'It is bizarre that an elected representative from a party that professes to be tolerant of people whatever their lifestyle should use language like that.'

The council's standards board was alerted to the comments but Mr Smith remains the deputy leader. He declined to comment on the row.

A CPS spokeswoman said it 'takes homophobic crime very seriously but in this case, we decided the word 'dyke' was not being used in a homophobic way against Mrs Connelly.'


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Conservative Councillor - Harassment

Paul Peccioli, 55, "reacted badly" when Julia Pickup, whom he met online, told him she thought they should stop seeing each other, a court heard.

When Miss Pickup, 51, told him that their six-month relationship was over he banged his head against a wall then held up an airgun, telling Miss Pickup he would "deck her if she was a man", Leicester Crown Court was told.

The court heard that over the next few days Peccioli, a former Conservative member of Daventry District Council, slapped Miss Pickup's legs and threatened to take an overdose.

When she tried to go to work one morning, four days after she had ended their relationship, Peccioli blocked her path.

But he allowed her to call in to explain her absence. Two workmates realised something was wrong and went to her home.

When they arrived at the property in Ullesthorpe, Leicestershire, Miss Pickup escaped but Peccioli chased after them in his own car.

Mr Thatcher told the court: "She ran out to the waiting car. When Peccioli realised what was happening he ran out after her, screaming."

Miss Pickup's colleague did not know the village and turned into a cul-de-sac.

Peccioli tried to open the doors of the car, forcing Miss Pickup's colleague to mount the pavement. They managed to drive away, but Peccioli was following at high speeds.

Miss Pickup's colleague drove to the nearest police station where Peccioli was arrested.

He pleaded guilty to putting a person in fear of violence by harassment and blamed his driving on "emotional upset".

The couple met via the internet in March last year, but Miss Pickup ended the relationship in September after Peccioli became "possessive and overbearing".

Peccioli was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence and a restraining order that prevents him from going within 50 metres of Miss Pickup's home or contacting her.

Judge Michael Pert QC said: "I am prepared to accept that at this late stage of your life you have made a fool of yourself rather than being an inherently dangerous person.

"But that is of little consolation to your victim, and I have to take steps to protect her. Your behaviour during this incident was disgraceful."


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Conservative Councillor - Theft

Alan Preest (pic Courtesy Gloucestershire County Council)
Mr Preest represents the Lydney North Ward of the county council

A Gloucestershire county councillor has resigned his position on the county's police authority after accepting a caution for theft.

Alan Preest, a Conservative councillor, was arrested on Friday in connection with an incident at a supermarket in Lydney and cautioned.

A Gloucestershire Police Authority spokesman said the councillor had resigned with immediate effect.

Mr Preest was unavailable for comment on Saturday.

He represents the Lydney North Ward of the county council.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Conservative councillor guilty of rigging election votes

ANOTHER former Peterborough city councillor stood in disgrace yesterday after being found guilty of cheating his way to election victory by forging votes.
Ex-Conservative Abdul Razaq is facing the almost certain prospect of jail after a jury convicted him of setting up a vote-rigging "production line" to guarantee success in the 2004 council elections.

The 52-year-old Peterborough Regional College lecturer becomes the fifth person, and the second former councillor, to be convicted of electoral fraud for interfering with votes in the city's Central ward.

Earlier this year, Mohammed Choudhary, who became Peterborough's first Asian mayor in 1997, was jailed for nine months after he was found guilty of forgery.

Jurors have yet to reach a verdict on Razaq's co-defendant and ex-mayor of Peterborough Raja Akhtar, who denies similar charges.

Razaq's crimes were uncovered after voters in the Central ward complained they had been turned away from polls in June 2004 because their ballots had already been cast by post.

A huge police operation, which was to last four years and cost an estimated £1 million, found the father-of-four's handwriting on 39 applications for postal and proxy votes.

Prosecutors at King's Lynn Crown Court said Razaq had systematically hijacked voters' poll cards.

Jurors were told he filled in the cards so that postal votes would be sent not to the electors themselves, but to the addresses of his own friends and relatives, setting up a fraudulent "production line" to sway the ballot in his favour.

Among his victims were husband and wife Jaswinder Kaur and Gopal Singh, of Russell Street, Peterborough, who denied giving Razaq the authority to fill in their poll cards.

The court also heard from couples Sadhia Yaqub and Parvaiz Akhtar, and Sameem and Nadeem Dar, all of Gladstone Street, who said they had never heard of the addresses where their ballot papers were sent.

Razaq never denied it was his handwriting on the poll cards, but his defence counsel insisted he was merely trying to help people get involved with the electoral process.

Mohammed Latif, defending, said: "The poll cards were brought back to (Razaq) by canvassers or, in other cases, he saw the voters himself.

"He filled in the addresses and gave (the cards) back to the canvassers to be signed by the voters. If that is all that happened, he has done nothing wrong; there is no forgery."

The jury, however, disagreed and found Razaq guilty on six out of eight counts of forgery after nearly 20 hours of deliberation over four days.

Four of the convictions were unanimous verdicts while the remaining two were by majorities of 10 to two. He was cleared of two further forgery charges.

Razaq, of Newark Avenue, Peterborough, showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts were read out.

Judge Alasdair Darroch told him he would almost certainly be sent to prison when he returned to court for sentencing at a later date.

He said: "I have to give you this very clear warning: these sorts of offences almost always result in a custodial sentence."



Conservative - Gay Sex in Public Toilet

A Conservative councillor in Harrow has appeared in court charged with engaging in sexual activity in a public lavatory.

Robert Benson did not enter a plea at Harrow Magistrates' Court last week.

He has been suspended from the party but remains a councillor.

Council leader David Ashton told the Harrow Observer:

"Firstly, this is a matter for the courts. Secondly, as Conservative group leader, I have suspended Councillor Benson from the group.

"If somebody is charged with a criminal offence, they are suspended as part of our standard procedure."

Mr Benson, 41, is accused of giving oral sex to another man in a public toilet in south Harrow on June 25th.

He was arrested and bailed until July 8th, when he was charged.

A 56-year-old from Essex man was issued with a caution.

Mr Benson's case will be heard on 30th July at Wimbledon Magistrates Court.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Conservative Councillor - Harassment

The Tory Party's Parliamentary candidate for Watford, who quit following his arrest by officers probing a three-year hate campaign, has now been told he should stand down as a councillor.

Yesterday, the Watford Observer exclusively revealed Ian Oakley had been arrested and then bailed by police investigating the harassment of several Liberal Democrat councillors in the town.

Mr Oakley was arrested on Friday and a Conservative spokesman last night confirmed he had stood down as the party’s parliamentary candidate for Watford.

Now there have been calls for Mr Oakley to stand down as a councillor in Northwood.

The police investigation, nicknamed Operation Tuition, has been coordinated by Hertfordshire Constabulary's major crime task force.

The allegations relate to the sustained harassment of Liberal Democrats in the town, some of whom have suffered vandalism to their personal property and received malicious phone calls.

Several councillors have had abuse scratched into their cars and their tyres slashed, while others have had vile graffiti daubed close to their home.

Some councillors have even had pornography sent to their houses.

Nascot councillor Mark Watkin has also been the victim of a vicious poison pen letter campaign that made unfounded sexual allegations about him.

Police yesterday confirmed a 31-year-old man had been arrested in relation to the incident.

Mr Oakley has not been charged and is now on police bail pending further enquiries.

Calls for Mr Oakley to resign his Northwood seat have been led by Councillor Mike Cox, leader of Hillingdon Council's Lib Dems.

He said: "If he's taken the decision to resign from Watford then he should certainly resign from Hillingdon where he has far more responsibility for direct relations with the public."


Update 14/10/08

The Conservative party was urged yesterday to conduct an inquiry into a hate campaign carried out by one of its former parliamentary candidates against his Liberal Democrat opponents.

Ian Oakley, 31, who was selected in the Labour-held seat of Watford in 2006, was sentenced yesterday to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months.

St Albans magistrates said his "vile and persistent" campaign, including harassment and criminal damage aimed at dozens of Lib Dem supporters and councillors, was an attempt "to pervert the democratic process". Calling for the inquiry, his principal target, Sal Brinton, the Lib Dem candidate for Watford, said the Tories locally and nationally have never apologised nor responded in any way since Oakley pleaded guilty in August.

Full Story and Source

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lib Dem - Drink driving - Again

Greasy and oily and still sucking in some people

A councillor has been thrown out of his party after being caught drink driving while almost three times over the legal limit.

Hugh O’Hanlon, 56, was suspended by Mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill as soon as he informed the Liberal Democrat leader about his arrest.

O’Hanlon, who was returned to his Tudor ward seat in this year’s May elections, pleaded guilty to drink driving and driving without insurance at Watford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

He has been banned from driving and faces a community order as well as a hefty fine.

Despite allegations he performed council duties while drunk, O’Hanlon – who receives an annual allowance of £7,209 from Watford Borough Council – said he will not resign from his seat.

He said: “I won’t be resigning under any circumstances.

“My council work is exceptional. I have had letters about how good a councillor I am, that’s excellent.

“I have got to put my hands up in the air and say I am extremely sorry.

“I have been an idiot. It’s my fault. I cannot do anything else, but there were a lot of reasons which brought that into line.”

Watford magistrates heard O’Hanlon was stopped by police on his driveway on Thursday, June 19, having driven his wife’s blue Fiat Punto the few hundred yards from the Tudor Arms.

Lynette Woodrow, prosecuting, told the court: “He got out of the driver’s door and was seen to put something in his mouth.

“When questioned, he said it was a mint and told the officers they would now have to wait 20 minutes to breathalyse him.

“He appeared drunk and was being argumentative.”

When he was arrested at 6.35pm, O’Hanlon asked: “Who called you?”

He was taken to Watford Police Station, where he gave a alcohol reading of 104. The legal limit is 35.

It is not the first time O’Hanlon, a governor of Parkgate Junior Infants School, has been caught drink driving. In 1999 he was banned for a year for the same offence.

Tony Irving, defending, said in mitigation O’Hanlon had taken the “foolish” decision to drive the short distance home because he cannot walk more than 200 yards since suffering a stroke in November.

He said his client suffered from depression as a result of the condition but his arrest had brought home his need for help, which was being dealt with by O’Hanlon’s GP.

When it came to driving without insurance, the court heard O’Hanlon thought he was covered, but later discovered the policy was only for his wife and daughter.

O’Hanlon’s alleged drunken behaviour was first brought to the council’s attention last year when he was reported to have overturned a table in a fit of rage at the Tudor Arms.

He was barred from the pub following the incident but then allowed back after it was said to be a case of “mistaken identity”.

Mayor Thornhill said that was the one and only time the council has received any complaint about the “well-liked” councillor.

She said: “We went round to speak to the landlady but by then it had been sorted out and no further action was taken.

“We have never had a single formal complaint about him, but after the pub incident I made it quite clear that any more of that sort of stuff and people would start to make assumptions.”

The Mayor, who was unaware of O’Hanlon’s previous spent drink driving conviction, said there was no excuse for his crime.

She added: “The only good thing to come out of all this is that he is facing the fact he is a victim of alcohol abuse and is doing something about it.”

Asked if there is any way back for him into the party, she said: “The most important thing is for him to get on with being a good councillor, it’s up to Hugh.

“The ball’s in his court.”

O’Hanlon could carry on representing the Tudor ward as an independent.

Indeed the council’s website has already changed his personal profile and now lists him as an independent.

However, the Liberal Democrat hierarchy has been criticised for allowing O’Hanlon to stand for re-election in May.

Amanda Grimston, a Conservative councillor for the Leggatts ward, said she complained the Tudor councillor had arrived “drunk” and late for a meeting last year – accusations O’Hanlon denies.

Councillor Grimston said: “I think what he has done is an utter disgrace. I do not care if you are Labour or Conservative or a Liberal Democrat.

“It is not the behaviour of a local councillor. I feel he should be struck off.”

Leader of the Conservative group, Andrew Mortimer, said it was obvious to all that O’Hanlon needed help.

He said: “He has clearly fought with the problem for some time and I am very sorry that it has caught up with him. Of all the people I know in the council it was clear he had a problem.”

However, Mr O’Hanlon described allegations of being drunk in a council meeting as “absolute nonsense”.

He said: “There’s not one person in that town hall that’s seen me drunk.

“I do know what she [Councillor Grimston] is talking about. It’s where I had been for a beer before a meeting and that's it, end of story.

“As far as being drunk, no way. Not in a million years.”

As well as a minimum 12-month ban, magistrates must decide what severity of fine to impose on O’Hanlon.

Hanlon, who can also expect a medium length community order, will be sentenced on Tuesday, August 5.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

UKIP MEP - Fraud

AN EAST of England Euro MP last night said he had “nothing to hide” after it emerged a member of his own party had complained to police about alleged “financial irregularities”.

Jeffrey Titford, a former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), was reported to Essex Police after allegations were made against him and his political advisor, Stuart Gulleford.

The pair are now under investigation by police, but they and UKIP have both dismissed the allegations.

Speaking on behalf of Mr Titford and himself, Mr Gulleford said: “The police are more than welcome to talk to us anytime they like. We have got nothing to hide. The door is open.”

Last month, fellow Euro MP Tom Wise, who was voted in as a UKIP MEP for the East of England, but is now an Independent, was arrested by Bedfordshire Police on suspicion of obtaining money by deception. He has been released on police bail pending an investigation.

The investigation into Mr Titford and Mr Gulleford was triggered by John West, chairman of UKIP in Ipswich and East Suffolk, who recently failed in a bid to stand as a Euro MP.

Mr West, also a UKIP prospective parliamentary candidate for Ipswich North and Suffolk Central, told the EADT he contacted police over the alleged “financial irregularities” after someone came to him with allegations of illegal activities.

He said he felt obliged to report the allegations which involved senior members of the UKIP party.

A spokesman for Essex police said: “We can confirm we have received a complaint from Mr West and it is under investigation.”

But the UKIP party stood by their members denying there was anything in the allegations.

A spokesman said: “We have received these allegations at senior level some time ago. They were investigated and found to be completely without foundation and we wish to make no further comment on that.

“Jeffery Titford and Stuart Gulleford are both long serving members of good character.”

A retired Frinton funeral director, Mr Titford was born in West Mersea,and was a local councillor in the Clacton area in the 1970s.

He became involved with UKIP in late 1997. He was elected an MEP in June 1999 and was re-elected in June 2004. He successfully stood for the Party leadership in March 2000, a position he held until October 2002.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tory councillor admits rape

A Tory politician has lost his job and could be kicked out of the party after admitting five sex offences involving three girls, one of them being a charge of rape.

Stephen Mullins, 52, formerly of Links Avenue, Hellesdon, has been a member of Norwich North Conservative Association (NNCA) for about two years and a Hellesdon parish councillor for about the same time.

Mullins, who worked as head chef in the kitchen of the Bull pub in Reepham Road, Hellesdon for 17 years until April this year, appeared at Norwich Crown Court.

He admitted two offences of indecent assault against one girl under 14, between August 22, 1999 and August 21, 2000, and between August 22, 2000 and August 21, 2002. He also admitted rape involving the same girl between August 22, 1999 and August 21, 2002.

He also admitted sexual assault by penetration on April 3, 2008 on another girl aged 14 and assault by penetration on April 14, 2008 on another young girl.

He was remanded in custody to await a pre-sentence report and is due to be sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on September 1.

Jonathan Seeley, prosecuting, said that counts one and two were sample counts, while the rest were specific allegations.

Commenting after the case, Shelagh Gurney, chairman of the NNCA, said: “In view of his admission of guilt and the severity of the offences, I'm taking legal action with a view to releasing him from party membership.”

Patrick Cutter, landlord at the Bull pub, said: “Obviously I don't condone what he has done, and as a business we want to draw a line under it. He won't be working for me anymore.”

Broadland district councillor and Hellesdon parish councillor Tony Adams was at court yesterday, and said the council would be looking to replace Mullins on the parish council either by a by-election or by cooption.

Mr Adams said: “I would like to extend my sympathies to his partner and to the girls he abused.

“My understanding is that he will be automatically debarred from continuing to serve as a parish councillor, because he will have already served more than three months in jail, whatever the sentence.”

Mullins is believed to have been living with a partner, but is not understood to have any children.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Conservative Paedophile sentenced

A FORMER Councillor has escaped jail for downloading thousands of child porn images.

Peter O'Brian, 46, formally of Drakes Way, Hatfield, was given a three year community order today at Cheshunt Magistrates Court and is attending rehabilitation for his sick addiction.

The ex-councillor pleaded guilty to 11 counts of making indecent images of children and two counts of possessing indecent images of children.

The paedophile was arrested at Stanstead Airport in October, after the images were discovered on a council computer while he was on holiday.

A police investigation revealed more than 6,000 images and movies on the laptop of the former chairman of Welwyn Hatfield Conservative Association and representative for Welham Green.

Detective Inspector Paul Doran, head of the Paedophile Unit, said: "We treat images depicting the abuse of children extremely seriously and will always take action against those responsible.

"Viewing or downloading images of this nature is not a victimless crime - those children have been exploited and are victims. "Despite O'Brien holding an important position in the community, he thought it was acceptable to view these images when it was clearly not.

"By admitting the offences he has gone some way in acknowledging his actions were unacceptable and he has made a positive step by attending a rehabilitation programme to manage his sexual interest."

O'Brien has also been given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which bans him from buying or using software which would remove evidence of his activity on a computer.

He has also been disqualified from working with children, fined £300 in costs and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' register.

Paul added: "I would like to express my thanks to Welwyn and Hatfield Council who have supported us through our investigation and I am grateful for their co-operation."


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Conservative - Drink Driving

07:00 - 16 June 2008

A councillor convicted of drink-driving has apologised to his Clevedon constituents for letting them down.

Stanley Vyce, pictured, a Conservative member of North Somerset Council, was stopped by police at 5.15am on May 24 after returning from a party in Bristol.

At a hearing at North Somerset Magistrates' Court, it was revealed that 28-year-old Mr Vyce, of Newlands Green, Clevedon, had 52 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath - the limit is 35mg.

He pleaded guilty to drink-driving and was banned from driving for a year. He was also ordered to pay a £250 fine, a £15 victim surcharge and £60 costs.

Mr Vyce, who has been suspended from North Somerset's Conservative group in line with national party rules, said he was sorry for what he had done and felt embarrassed and humiliated by his court appearance.

He apologised to residents who voted for him in last May's elections.

Mr Vyce had been out with work friends in Bristol on the night he was stopped by police in Northern Way, Clevedon. They had visited a restaurant and a bar before going back to a friend's house.

The councillor, who joined the Conservative party at the age of 16 while a student at Backwell School, said: "I did not believe I was over the limit when I drove home.

"I did have a drink of Blackthorn cider but was also drinking soft drinks and the test showed I was about two-thirds of a pint over the legal limit.

"I feel very stupid about what has happened. I am really sorry and want to apologise to the local people who voted for me.

"This was a strong Labour seat and the people of the town put their trust and belief in me and the Conservative party, and I feel I have let them down."

Mr Vyce, a pensions administrator, said it was difficult to attend meetings without a car so he was reconsidering his position as a councillor for the town's central ward.

Council leader Nigel Ashton said the Conservative group would discuss Mr Vyce's drink-drive conviction at its meeting on Tuesday.


Friday, June 13, 2008

UKIP Candidate on rape charges

A FORMER royal butler has been charged with 18 sex offences against boys.

Paul Kidd, of Grasscroft Road, Stalybridge, has been accused of rape, indecent assault and sexual assault.

He appeared before Tameside Magistrates yesterday and was remanded in custody, but will making an application for bail tomorrow.

Kidd, 54, stood for election as a UK Independent Party candidate in Dukinfield and Stalybridge last year and received 283 votes - 9.7 per cent.

Some of the alleged offences go back three decades but others are recent.


In a statement Greater Manchester Police, who have conducted a three-month inquiry, said: "A 54-year-old man has been charged with 18 offences after allegations of child abuse were made against him.

"Paul Kidd has been charged with nine counts of rape, four counts of gross indecency, two counts of indecent assault and three of sexual assault.

"The charges relate to an historic report received by the police that a man who is now 41 had been sexually assaulted in 1981. A 17-year-old boy also alleges he was abused."

Police seized a computer allegedly containing more than 1,000 images of suspected child porn.

John Cooke, a spokesman for the Tameside branch of UKIP, said: "Last year Mr Kidd stood in Stalybridge and did very well for us. He came third and it cost the Tories a seat they were hoping to take from Labour.

"He is very well known in Stalybridge and well liked. These charges against him have come as a huge shock, the party knew nothing about it.

"He was not intending to stand for us this year as he has been ill and is due to go into hospital for an operation.

"As part of his work doing talks about his time with the Royal Family he does a lot of cruises."

Kidd appears on a website for after-dinner speakers and his fee is set at £2,000 to £4,000.

After leaving school he joined the Royal Navy as a silver service waiter looking after the captain and officers.


In 1976, he was appointed butler to the Queen at Buckingham Palace and served there for six years until he transferred to Clarence House to serve the Queen Mother as senior footman.

In 1979 he was awarded the Most Noble Order of Merit by the West German President on a state visit. He is one of only 32 people in the world to hold the award.

He met and looked after three US presidents and every King and Queen in Europe.

In 1985 he had to end his royal service due to illness - but made a complete recovery.

He has appeared on television chat shows in Britain and the US.

Kidd was arrested in London.


Labour - Drink driving

A SENIOR councillor at the centre of a drink-driving investigation was today suspended from the Labour Party.
Coun Eddie McAtominey was arrested after a crash in Victoria Road West, Hebburn, on Monday night.

He is one of the longest-serving members of South Tyneside Council, and the borough's representative on Northumbria Police Authority,

Coun McAtominey, representative for Hebburn South, was heading towards his home in Sullivan Walk, Hebburn, when he was involved in what police called "a minor crash."

He was arrested on suspicion of drink driving, and taken to South Shields police station.

Coun McAtominey today denied the allegations and said he'd 'fight' them.

But this afternoon, Neil Fleming, spokesman for Labour North, said: "As of this morning, Coun Eddie McAtominey has been suspended from the Labour Party.

"That means he can hold no office within the party until the investigation is complete."


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Conservative MEP - Expense Claims

Giles Chichester has resigned as leader of David Cameron's Conservative Euro MPs after breaking European Parliament rules on political expenses.

He threw in the towel after facing an ultimatum from Mr Cameron to justify channelling more than £400,000 in staff allowances to a family business of which he is a paid director.

Mr Chichester stayed on as a Tory MEP, but stepped down from the top job to limit embarrassment to Mr Cameron - who had asked him only three months ago to clean up Tory MEP allowances in the wake of a scandal at Westminster over MP Derek Conway.

In a statement, the Conservative Party said Mr Chichester stepped down after chairman Caroline Spelman asked him to provide a full explanation of the arrangements put in place to fund his staff.

Mr Chichester chose to step down with immediate effect to prepare his report to the European Parliament authorities, said the party.

Mr Cameron said: "Giles Chichester is right to stand down as leader of our MEPs to prepare a full explanation of how his office is funded.

"Just as I expect our MPs to adhere to the highest standards, so must our MEPs.

"The tax-paying public have a right to know how their money is being spent and politicians have a duty to ensure it is spent properly."

Deputy leader Philip Bushill-Matthews will take over as acting leader.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Labour councillor - Fraud

A FORMER Cambridge councillor has been tagged and put under curfew for falsely using a disabled parking badge.

Louise Downham, who stepped down as a Labour member of the city council at elections in May, was caught by her own council using a pass which belonged to a former neighbour.

Home - Louise Downham
Louise Downham
Downham, 37, represented King's Hedges and was known as a community-minded councillor. On the Cambridge Labour website, she listed "making life easier for the disabled" as one of her aims.

Downham, of Dunsmore Close, Cambridge, pictured, was arrested in April after complaining about a parking ticket left on her Seat Ibiza. City council parking officers looked into the complaint and discovered she was using the badge falsely.

Appearing before magistrates in Cambridge, Downham pleaded guilty to a charge of using a false instrument between June 21 2007 and January 8 2008 with intent it be accepted as genuine.

She was tagged for a two-month 8pm to midnight curfew and ordered to pay £60 towards court costs.

The offence was exposed when Christopher Casboult, who works for Cambridge City Council parking services, looked into the complaint about the ticket, which was issued in January this year. He discovered Downham's vehicle had been issued with other tickets previously - which she had also challenged.

Photo records showed the same blue badge was displayed in the vehicle in January as in June last year. The only difference was the expiry date had been altered.

It turned out the badge had been registered to Downham's former next-door neighbour, who had emigrated to the USA three years earlier. It expired in July 2007.

Police arrested Downham at her home on April 14 and she concocted a series of stories to explain away her use of the badge, magistrates were told.

Eventually she came clean and admitted: "I'm bang to rights. It's not easy doing this job and being a mother. I had to use the badge to get to meetings on time."

Downham was described in court as a dedicated volunteer and charity worker who suffers from narcolepsy, a condition which induces sudden sleep.

A campaigning group for the disabled said the sentence handed to Downham was not tough enough, as parking spaces are essential for disabled people.

A spokeswoman for the United Kingdom's Disabled People's Council said: "It's hardly a deterrent - a tag for two months. Disabled people often rely on available car parking spaces in order to do things, go to work, do the weekly shop and have a life, as they often have no choice."

Councillor Lewis Herbert, leader of the Labour group on Cambridge City Council, said Downham had decided to stand down in autumn 2007.

Of the court case, he said: "It is not something I had any knowledge about. It is only a year since she had a new baby and I think she was finding it very difficult to balance family life with quite a demanding ward."