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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