Cleared councillor’s anger

Reporter: Janice Barker
Date published: 09 March 2010

A former Tory councillor who was cleared of computer misuse has become an independent and after hitting out at his treatment by Conservative group colleagues.

Failsworth West Councillor Ian Barker was investigated by police after inappropriate emails were sent to fellow councillors last year.

He had been on bail for over 30 weeks and was suspended from the Oldham Group of Conservative councillors. His wife Jennifer, a former Tory group researcher, had been cleared earlier.

Today he said: “I was hugely disappointed and sorely let down when I heard that, despite being cleared of any wrong doing in the case, I would have to reapply and win a majority vote to get back into the group.

“I had given three years of my life to help the Conservatives win seats in Failsworth and I will not go back to the group cap-in-hand asking to be let in when I have been cleared.”

He added that the behaviour of some councillors from within that group during this time had also had a bearing on his decision to resign.

The Tory group leader, Councillor Jack Hulme, said he was shocked by Councillor Barker’s decision, as he had told him he wanted to get back into the group.

He added: “I said there would have to be a group meeting and let him know, but one of our members was on holiday.

“Forty eight hours later I got an email from Councillor Barker saying he was leaving.

“I don’t know where he has got this majority vote issue from, but he said he didn’t feel he could reapply. We regret it, but it is his decision.”

Elected in 2008, Councillor Barker will now be an independent until the elections of 2012, but says he will remain a member of the Ashton Conservative Association.