West Norfolk councillor Patrick Rochford shouts “shame” and storms out of meeting after being censured for bullying
- Credit: Ian Burt
A councillor accused of bullying a colleague shouted 'shame' and stormed out of a meeting after he was formally censured by the council.
West Norfolk councillor Patrick Rochford was accused of bullying fellow councillor Sandra Squire through a number of tweets made on his public Twitter account last year.The councillor for Gaywood North Bank ward faced disciplinary action at a council meeting on Thursday, January 25.
The council's standards committee discussed a complaint brought forward by Mrs Squire and concluded that Mr Rochford had breached the authority's code of conduct.
The committee put forward recommendations for Mr Rochford to be formally censured and for his membership of committees and outside bodies to end.
But after the majority of councillors agreed with the recommendations, Mr Rochford shouted 'shame.'
He stood up at the meeting and asked 'Am I not allowed to speak if I am to be condemned?' Before he made accusations against Mrs Squire.
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Mrs Squire had even asked: 'Do I not have right to reply?'
After the formal censure, which lasted around five minutes, Mr Rochford stormed out of the meeting.
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In a heated debate, Labour councillor John Collop raised concerns about the make up of the standards committee.
But council leader said it was not the appropriate time to discuss the matter, adding: 'They are a professional group of people who are asked to do a job, a job that many of us wouldn't find very easy.'
As councillors descended into a verbal brawl, mayor Carol Bower tried to call order, saying: 'It is not proper'
In August last year, Mr Rochford tweeted during a council meeting, at which Sandra Squire was present, commenting on the way she dressed.
Mr Rochford posted: 'We have a Councillor attending here this evening wearing a baseball cap and shades. Where are our standards?'
The panel considered Mr Rochford's tweet to be 'another attempt to undermine her publicly' and that it constituted 'disrespectful conduct'.
Mrs Squire had been suspended by the Conservative Party in the run up to the local elections over allegations which were investigated and dismissed because no evidence had been found.
Mr Rochford resigned from the Conservative Party but continues to serve as an independent councillor.