Council to investigate 'trouble-making, fake emails' sent to councillor

South Hornchurch independent Natasha Summers

South Hornchurch councillor Natasha Summers said she received 'trouble-making' emails, purporting to be from colleagues, which they denied ever sending. - Credit: Archant

An investigation is set to look into allegations of irregularities on a Havering councillor’s email account, it has announced. 

South Hornchurch independent Natasha Summers claimed she had received bogus emails purporting to be from fellow councillors.

“I would get emails from colleagues that they said they hadn’t sent,” Cllr Summers told the Recorder. “Trouble-making emails, trying to find out what I was doing, what I was up to. It was very peculiar.”

Cllr Summers came forward after the Recorder reported that Havering Council had admitted to opening councillors’ letters without permission.

Three councillors said their letters had been read without consent, including independent Bob Perry, who called it an "unacceptable breach of privacy”.

The authority said it had only opened councillors’ letters during the coronavirus pandemic in an attempt to be helpful, in case there was anything urgent in them.

It said it would cease the practice after councillors complained.

Cllr Summers became the fourth councillor to tell the Recorder that she had received letters already opened.

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“They sometimes arrive with no envelopes,” she alleged.

But she also told the Recorder she had experienced of a series of problems with her council email account.

Cllr Summers said she believed contents from her inbox had been leaked to the media in the past – but would not say to which outlet or what about.

“People were knowing about what was in them before I did,” she alleged. “A member of the press told me something that was in my emails.”

Cllr Summers said she had previously reported the problems to the council and was asked to hand in her council computer tablet.

“They took it away from me to see if it had been mucked about with,” she said. “When it came back, it was completely wiped."

Cllr Summers said that meant she lost access to all of the emails she had been complaining about.

But fellow South Hornchurch independent Graham Williamson confirmed to the Recorder that Cllr Summers had detailed her concerns to him contemporaneously. 

“I was aware that Natasha had experienced numerous issues with emails, many of which seem never to have re-emerged,” he said.

A Havering Council spokesperson said: “Cllr Summers’ concerns relating to her email account will be looked into.”

For more, read:

Councillors' letters were opened without permission, Town Hall admits

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