Investigation launched by monitoring officer over ‘libellous’ Hertsmere General Election comments
PUBLISHED: 18:26 21 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:10 22 June 2020
A Shenley councillor will be investigated by Hertsmere Borough Council over an outburst at a 2019 General Election hustings in Radlett.
Conservative borough councillor Anthony Spencer was captured on video, on December 2 at the United Radlett Synagogue, questioning the Labour parliamentary candidate Holly Kal-Weiss on her saying ‘free Palestine’ – which she views as libellous.
Ms Kal-Weiss – who is Jewish – said: “Cllr Spencer [who is also Jewish] came armed with a libellous social media post on his phone to harass me in a public forum.
She also claims he said “she’s not British, she’s American”, which cannot be heard on the tape, when Ms Kal-Weiss has lived here for 30 years.
She said: “Why did he scoff at my comment that ‘I am as British as you’? The Nolan principles, broken by [Cllr] Spencer, require that we expect more from our elected representatives.”
At the time, the chair of the hustings, Jeffrey Gruder QC, said, “You [Cllr Spencer] are, with due respect, disgracing yourself” and told him to sit down.
Ms Kal-Weiss then made a formal complaint, in December, which was investigated by HBC’s standards committee – who have now referred it to the monitoring officer to be investigated.
The officer will then determine whether the remarks were made and if, as the Hertsmere ex-candidate alleges, they are “derogatory, inflammatory, discriminatory and racist and constituted bullying behaviour on the part of councillor Spencer”.
Hertsmere’s Conservatives are aware of the complaint, and said: “To ensure we do not prejudice the investigation we will not comment until the investigation has been concluded.”
Labour group leader for Hertsmere Cllr Jeremy Newmark also had a complaint made against him to the standards committee and was asked to write a letter of a apology over “a personal attack on the character and integrity of the complainant”.
If the letter is not satisfactory to the chair then he could also be investigated by the monitoring officer.
Cllr Newmark maintains he is not “allowed to speak about an ongoing standards case”.
“However, in broad terms my view is that in the current climate the informal disputes resolution process is preferable to costly and time consuming investigations.”
Cllr Spencer has been asked to comment but has so far not responded.
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