TAMESIDE TORIES IN CRISIS: A tale of how NOT to manage a political defection!

Conservatives1Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne has today acknowledged and thanked Tameside’s ‘newest’ Conservative Councillor, Colin White, and Tory leader, Councillor John Bell for their unreserved apologies.

Councillor White had made defamatory comments both to Councillor Bell and to the Tameside Borough Solicitor, that Andrew Gwynne MP had been “pointing the finger” about alleged debt problems at his former home in Audenshaw.

However, in accepting the apology, some very serious questions still remain unanswered including whether or not Councillor White has breached the Code of Local Government Conduct or satisfactorily met the requirements of Section 80 (1) (b) of the Local Government Act1972; as well as other substantial issues of concern too sensitive to publish.

Andrew Gwynne MP has today written to Tameside Tory leader to ask that all of the matters are being thoroughly investigated by the Conservative Party and Tameside Conservative Group.

Andrew Gwynne MP said:

I look forward to receiving a full explanation as to the process by which the Tameside Tories are now going to investigate the very serious matters, which I know they now know about thanks to Councillor White’s vexatious complaint inadvertently bringing things to my attention.”

“Local residents in Audenshaw, and throughout Tameside, rightly expect to see the highest standards displayed in public life.  It’s time for the Tameside Tories to act.”

Email to Cllr John Bell, asking for a FULL INQUIRY into Cllr White’s circumstances:

Dear Councillors Bell and White

Thank you both for sending me your unreserved apologies for the malicious and vexatious complaint about me, made by Councillor White to Tameside Council’s Borough Solicitor in an email dated 25th September 2013.

I am grateful that you have both acknowledged that Councillor White was mistaken and that I have never been contacted by Mr XXXX of XX Linden Avenue, Audenshaw – or indeed by anyone else – over debt problems and bailiff visits at his former address.

Indeed I wasn’t even aware of the issue until it was brought to my attention by Councillor White’s defamatory claim that I had been “pointing fingers” over these matters.

Nevertheless, as some very serious matters were brought to my attention as a consequence of Councillor White’s defamatory complaint, I cannot just ignore them as though I had no prior knowledge of them.

As per my emails to both of you, which were sent on 26th September, I need much more than just an apology, which I have now received.

I also require an acknowledgement backed up by evidence that both the Conservative Party and the Conservative Group on Tameside Council are taking seriously the issues raised, and are properly and thoroughly investigating them in accordance with the disciplinary rules of the Conservative Party, a process it has now become apparent the Labour Group were set to take.

I look forward to receiving your full explanation as to the process by which you are now going to investigate these serious matters, which Councillor White’s vexatious complaint about me has inadvertently brought to my attention, and which I cannot just ignore as the elected Member of Parliament covering the Audenshaw Ward.

Local residents in Audenshaw, and throughout Tameside, rightly expect to see the highest standards displayed in public life.  I hope you can now satisfy them – and me – that you are taking these matters seriously, in the interests of both probity and democracy.

Yours sincerely

ANDREW GWYNNE MP, Denton and Reddish Constituency

Apology from Cllr White to Andrew Gwynne MP:

Dear Mr Gwynne

I apologise unreservedly to the email I sent to Sandra Stewart, in that that you had no knowledge of the complaint made from Mr XXXX of XX Linden Avenue. It was a misunderstanding from myself that I miss took your name for XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

Hope you accept my apology.

Regards

Councillor Colin White

Apology from Tory Group Leader, Cllr John Bell, to Andrew Gwynne MP:

Dear Andrew

I am sorry this has happened, and is due to a complete misunderstanding by Cllr White who thought the original complaint had come from you.

I did tell him a Mr XXXX of Linden Ave made the complaint to XXXXXXXXX who passed it to Sandra Stewart.

Last night I received an email from Cllr White who realised the mistake he made and I told him to issue an apology to you .

I hope that this clears up this and at no time were you are should be implicated.

Kind regards,

John

Email from Andrew Gwynne MP to Cllr White: 

Dear Councillor Colin White

Please can I draw your attention to my email from yesterday to the Tameside MBC Borough Solicitor, which was in response to the full email chain that I had been copied into, starting with your email dated 25th September 2013.

I reiterate that I have had absolutely no contact in any form from a Mr XXXX (or anyone else for that matter) concerning alleged financial problems relating to your family; nor any knowledge of bailiffs visiting the new residents at XX Linden Avenue, Audenshaw.

However given the serious nature of the issues concerned, which you have sought to draw me into, and which I had no prior knowledge of at all, I am extremely grateful to the Borough Solicitor for copying me in to her detailed response as it will allow me to robustly challenge any further malicious and vexatious complaints you may seek to make about me.

I also expect an apology from your new Group Leader, Councillor John Bell, who has also been copied into this email chain, concerning his involvement in this matter, as it would appear from your email of the 25th September to the Tameside MBC Borough Solicitor, that this slur against my character began from him. See:

I have been informed by Councillor John Bell that Andrew Gwynne MP had a complaint on the 16th August 2013, from a Mr XXXX regarding financial issues relating to XX Linden Avenue Audenshaw  (when I was a Labour Councillor)

Should I not get a satisfactory apology from Councillor Bell, along with his assurances that he is taking all the necessary actions to satisfy the very serious issues covered by the Tameside MBC Borough Solicitor in her reply to you (which both Cllr Bell and I were copied in to) then I may have no option but to raise the matter on the floor of the House of Commons – under Parliamentary privilege – in order to clear my name against these malicious and vexatious actions, and to set the record straight that up until yesterday, I had no knowledge at all of any of these issues at all.

ANDREW GWYNNE MP, Labour – Denton and Reddish

Original email from Cllr White to Tameside Council’s Borough Solicitor: 

Hi Sandra

I have been informed by Councillor John Bell that Andrew Gwynne MP had a complaint on the 16th August 2013, from a Mr XXXX regarding financial issues relating to XX Linden Avenue Audenshaw  (when I was a Labour Councillor)

Had Mr Gwynne checked with me first like he should have done before wrongly assuming that it was me that owed the dept, I would of informed him that it has nothing to do with me, it is all XXXXXXXXX debt, who just so happens to have the same name as me.

If you require proof I am more than happy to supply this.

I have also contacted the loan companies on this matter. I have also spoken to the residents of XX Linden Avenue of this in the past, and I will do it again.

I would suggest that Mr Gwynne checks out allegations before he starts pointing fingers.

I would like to know what actions you are going to do to rectify this wrong allegation  made from Mr Gwynne.

I leave this in your hands.

Regards

Councillor Colin White

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