Just doing my job' claims councillor sacked for bullying
PUBLISHED: 17:57 14 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:57 12 August 2010
A COUNCILLOR accused of cyber bullying and forced to withdraw from the elections or face legal action said he was just doing his job. Independent Colin Willetts was banned from being a councillor for one year by a standards tribunal after it found he
A COUNCILLOR accused of cyber bullying and forced to withdraw from the elections or face legal action said he was "just doing his job."
Independent Colin Willetts was banned from being a councillor for one year by a standards' tribunal after it found he had bullied staff with emails and called Bromley Chief Executive Doug Patterson a 'liar' and a 'hypocrite'.
The former Cray Valley West member (since 1990) claims the case relates to emails sent to council staff and bosses 18 months ago. His one-year ban took effect from last Friday.
He said two council workers came to his home on Tuesday morning to pick up a letter signed by Mr Willetts withdrawing his candidacy from next month's elections on May 6.
Mr Willetts said: "I had a phone call from the council saying that if I did not sign the letter there could be legal implications. Then they sent round two people to pick up the letter."
In one email he criticised Bromley's chief executive, claiming that Mr Patterson refused to investigate a senior councillor's treatment of a subordinate member of staff.
It is also claimed emails were sent in response to complaints from residents about mass fly-tipping in St Paul's Cray.
Mr Willetts said: "The tribunal is saying that I've been cyber bullying, but I was just doing my job."
He added: "If the chief executive had a problem with what I sent 18 months ago he could have asked for an apology or issued a writ for libel but he chose not to.
"I'm very disappointed in the tribunal's decision, but I feel it is the council which has done the bullying."
Last Friday the First-Tier Tribunal for Local Government Standards found that Mr Willetts had breached the code of conduct relating to "Treating others with respect" and "Councillors must not...bully any person."
It found his attack on the chief executive to be a breach of the code for bringing his office and authority into disrepute. He also breached the code for being derogatory about council Director of Legal and Democratic Services, Mark Bowen.
It said: "The tribunal found the persistent and hectoring nature of the respondent's communication had the effect of bullying certain members of staff, including a more junior member of staff who was suffering from stress.
"In addition by questioning the chief executive's honesty and integrity in the way the respondent did was humiliating and undermining and was also conduct which could be described as bullying."
The issue was compounded, it said, due to emails being copied to council staff and to council meetings where the comments would receive "maximum publicity."
Mr Willetts has said he will appeal the decision but has withdrawn from the election, adding: "Residents will be very disappointed and upset that I cannot continue to represent them, something I have done for 20 years.