Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Newcastle City Councillor attempts to intimidate campaigner

A Newcastle City Lib Dem Councillor who has aspirations to become a Member of Parliament has attempted to use his position to intimidate a campaigner and potentially influence the outcome of a court case.

Campaigner, Neil Herron, whose case ongoing Parking Ticket case (began October 11th 2004) with Newcastle City Council was adjourned on 14th November 2005, had contacted Mr. Stone as he appeared from the Newcastle City Council website to be the portfolio holder for parking.

During the telephone conversation Mr. Stone advised Herron that Councillor Wendy Taylor was the elected member whose portfolio was responsible for the parking regime.

Herron pointed out that as a courtesy he would keep both councillors copied in to a Freedom of Information issue regarding Newcastle City Council's on and off street parking signage in case the situation in Newcastle developed into a one similar to Sunderland.

Mr. Stone responded by stating that after the press covered the Sunderland case Newcastle City Council had their signs checked out by a specialist so if Neil Herron wanted to have a go he should 'do his very best.'

Herron pointed out that he had a case pending at Newcastle Magistrates Court and so couldn't discuss the specifics of the case but Mr. Stone responded by saying that 'we will come after you heavily for costs.'

This has become all too typical of the behaviour of elected and unelected members of public bodies and it is not acceptable for such behaviour.
An apology has been accepted which will prevent the case being referred to the Standards Board.
However, Herron has reserved his right to call Councillor Greg Stone as a witness to proceedings in the case to be heard before Newcastle City Magistrates.

The apology from Councillor Stone can be viewed below:

From: "Stone Greg" greg.stone@newcastle.gov.uk
However, I accept that with hindsight it was inappropriate to discuss, even in passing, a "live" court case in which NCC and yourselves are the principal parties and I therefore apologise for my remark about costs. It was not appropriate to make any reference to this case and I think it would be better if both parties refrain from further public or private comment on this matter and to draw this correspondence to a close.
Yours sincerely
Cllr Greg Stone

1 comment:

Cllr Greg Stone said...

Neil, who of course has aspirations to become a Member of Parliament himself, is guilty of severely misrepresenting our conversation.

I firmly reject the accusation that I acted in an intimidatory manner towards a member of the public and I would suggest that in this case, Mr Herron has acted in a provocative and misleading manner, not least by selectively quoting from my email and making inaccurate assertions about my conduct.

I attach my full response to him below:

Dear Neil

I am not cowed by your threat of Standards Board action as I believe there is
no case to answer. Indeed, I have successfully seen off several "frivolous and
vexatious" Standards Boards complaints which have been politically motivated
and which have lacked substance.

I do not agree that you acted in a non-threatening and courteous way. You
began your conversation by alluding to how you had recently defeated Sunderland
and Rochdale, and the clear implication was that you were now turning your
attention to Newcastle. I do not recall that you raised any substantive points
about FOI issues. You also did not have the common courtesy to advise me that
you were broadcasting my conversation. I would be grateful for an apology on
this matter and would also like you to confirm whether or not you were
recording my remarks. It is still my impression that you are seeking to deal
with this matter in a browbeating manner and indeed it is my impression that
your motivation in this matter has been to "pick a fight".

However, I accept that with hindsight it was inappropriate to discuss, even in
passing, a "live" court case in which NCC and yourselves are the principal
parties and I therefore apologise for my remark about costs. It was not
appropriate to make any reference to this case and I think it would be better
if both parties refrain from further public or private comment on this matter
and to draw this correspondence to a close.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Greg Stone

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