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.