September 19 2014 Latest news:
by Sam Blewett, Reporter
Thursday, July 24, 2014
A councillor is “delighted” that he has been cleared of making “insulting and racist” remarks at a town hall meeting about residents of Havering and Newham as well as a council officer.
Five complaints against Cllr Jeff Tucker, of the Independent Residents’ Group, were made by Conservative and Labour members regarding the remarks.
But last week a council standards committee exonerated him.
However, the committee of Cllr Joshua Chapman (Conservative), Cllr Julie Wilkes (Residents’ Association) and Cllr David Johnson (Ukip), upheld allegations that Cllr Tucker was “aggressive” towards assistant chief executive Ian Burns.
But, speaking to the Recorder, Cllr Tucker claimed he was just trying to “hug” him after the heated November meeting.
The independent officer who conducted the report said: “By his actions, namely, leaving his seat, approaching and then touching the officer in chambers whilst in an apparently hostile mood, Cllr Tucker has failed to treat people with respect, as required by the code [of conduct].”
Cllr Tucker, who was re-elected to Rainham and Wennington in May with 21 per cent of the vote, said: “It was in the heat of the moment and I don’t believe I was aggressive to him at all.
“I put my arm around him to comfort him. He was one of my favourite officers.”
The panel decided not to make Cllr Tucker apologise further as he had done so at a June council meeting. But it did recommend that he took conduct training.
There was insufficient evidence to support complaints that Cllr Tucker made “racial comments” to the Recorder in November.
He said that black staff in Newham Council and white staff in Havering would not be able to work together.
The panel debated whether Cllr Tucker’s comments regarding Newham residents not washing their curtains were insulting to residents of both boroughs.
One member believed his comments were “insulting” but the majority concluded that no breach of the code of conduct had been made and said the politician’s words were “not chosen well”.
Cllr Tucker was also cleared of “disruptive” behaviour that prevented a council meeting from continuing.