Saturday, February 28, 2009

Labour Councillor - Illegal Taxi

No prosecution. Why?

OPPOSITION leaders have called for the chairman of Bolton’s planning committee to consider his position after he admitted to operating an illegal taxi.

Labour councillor Sean Hornby has received a “simple caution” after admitting using his car as a taxi without a licence, acting as a taxi driver without a licence, operating a car as a taxi without an operator licence and using his car as a taxi without the correct insurance.

Yesterday, Bolton Council withdrew the case at Bolton Magistrates’ Court as Cllr Hornby accepted the caution — which means he admitted the offences.

His previous “not guilty” pleas were “vacated” — removed from the court.

The case has been ongoing since last August and has cost Bolton taxpayers thousands of pounds.

The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats leaders have called on Cllr Hornby, who represents Little Lever and Darcy Lever, to consider his position.

Tory leader Cllr John Walsh said: “Anyone in public life is accountable. I hope Cllr Hornby will consider his position.”

Cllr David Wilkinson, deputy leader of the Lib Dems and licensing committee member, said: “It is up to Labour to proceed with this as they see fit.

“The planning committee has a lot of responsibility and if the chairman cannot adhere to the rules set by another committee of a similar standing, then questions need to be asked.”

But Cllr Hornby’s solicitor Ajmal Hussain, of AGH Solicitors, said his client would continue in his roles He said: “Mr Hornby has faced considerable stress and anxiety in a saga that has lasted for almost 12 months.

“He now intends to resume his normal personal and political life.

“Mr Hornby, a diligent and committed councillor, intends to continue serving his constituents. He intends to contest the next local elections in May, 2010.”

Cllr Cliff Morris, leader of the Labour Group and Bolton Council, said: “The issue has been dealt with by officers in the appropriate way. There are no implications for Cllr Hornby’s position under the code of conduct for councillors.”

A simple caution is not a conviction, but can be cited before a court on subsequent conviction.

Cllr Hornby, who was elected in 2006, originally pleaded not guilty to the charges, but the council said it opted to issue him a simple caution after he indicated, before the start of a planned trial last Monday, that he was willing to accept it.

A council spokesman said: “We are pleased that the matter has now been resolved and Cllr Hornby has been dealt with appropriately.”

Cllr Hornby was granted permission to apply for his costs from the Central Fund, a fund similar to legal aid but for privately-funded defences.


UPDATE 6 March 09

Councillor Suspended

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