King’s Lynn councillor Patrick Rochford under fire for bullying colleague on Twitter
PUBLISHED: 16:34 05 December 2017 | UPDATED: 16:34 05 December 2017
A councillor who posted “libellous and denigrating” tweets about a female colleague is facing disciplinary action.
West Norfolk councillor Patrick Rochford has been accused of bullying and making “false and vexatious” allegations.
West Norfolk’s standards committee discussed the case at a closed hearing last week. A report published after the session concludes Mr Rochford had breached the authority’s code of conduct.
Mr Rochford made remarks on social media about fellow councillor Sandra Squire. In August he tweeted during a council meeting, at which she 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?”
Mrs Squire, who is a member of a yacht racing team, said she wore her sailing outfit to the meeting after attending a Royal Yacht Association meeting earlier that day.
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.
She later resigned and continued serving on the borough and county councils as an independent.
After the report was published, Mrs Squire said: “One small point of vindication doesn’t make up for what I’ve been through.
“I was on the Parliamentary Candidates list and have walked away from a political career because of constant and ongoing bullying and harassment.”
Mr Rochford said he had apologised to Mrs Squire for commenting on her manner of dress.
But he said he disagreed with the report and is considering taking the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman, adding: “I do not feel this is a fair outcome.”
The panel recommended Mr Rochford be reported to full council and censured and for his membership of committees and outside bodies to end. It also recommended he hand back council-issued technology including an iPad and phone.
West Norfolk councillor Patrick Rochford came under fire for a series of tweets he posted earlier this year.
The tweets were made on Mr Rochford’s public Twitter account which identified him as a Conservative councillor in West Norfolk.
One tweet on May 10 said: “Heard that the leader of @WestNorfolkBC @CllrBLong shared a lift to Norwich with a woman who has been suspended by the Conservative party.”
Another said: “Will @CliftonCliff [leader Cliff Jordan] allow Cllr Squire to take the Conservative whip at county hall even though she is under police investigation?”
A report by the council’s standards committee said these tweets “sought to undermine” Mrs Squire, adding: “Cllr Rochford did not treat the complainant in an appropriate manner or with respect and brought the council into disrepute.”