Former Havering mayor's harassment case is dropped days before trial

Michael Deon Burton arriving at court in October

Conservative Havering councillor Michael Deon Burton arrived at Barkingside Magistrates' Court in October to deny harassing independent councillor Natasha Summers (inset) - Credit: Archant

The former mayor of Havering will no longer face trial after charges of harassing one of his council colleagues have been dropped.

Prosecutors confirmed to the Recorder that the case against Conservative councillor Michael Deon Burton had been discontinued.

Cllr Deon Burton attended Barkingside Magistrates’ Court in October, where he pleaded not guilty to a charge of harassment without violence.

He was accused of harassing his fellow South Hornchurch ward councillor Natasha Summers from the Independent Residents’ Group.

The charge related to emails he was alleged to have sent to Cllr Summers.

Cllr Deon Burton was due to stand trial at Romford Magistrates’ Court this Thursday, December 23.

However, Cllr Summers was informed by police last week that the case had been discontinued.

In a statement, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: “We have a duty to keep all of our cases under review.

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“Having considered all the evidence available in this case, the legal test for prosecution was not met.”

Cllr Summers told the Recorder: “I am obviously disappointed. I don’t understand the decision.

“As far as I know, the evidence has not changed since the decision was made to proceed.

“I have not heard anything from the CPS to explain why they have changed their minds.”

Both Cllr Deon Burton and Cllr Summers were both elected in South Hornchurch as independents on May 3, 2018.

Cllr Deon Burton secured 1,312 votes, whereas the best-performing Tory candidate scored only 634, trailing behind every Labour and Independent Residents’ Group candidate.

But within weeks, Cllr Deon Burton joined the Conservatives, helping them seize control of the council. He was appointed as the Tories’ deputy mayor and promoted to mayor the following year.

Cllr Summers participated in a protest against Cllr Deon Burton’s defection in 2018.

Cllr Deon Burton has been approached for comment.