Tribunal told councillor is not sexist or a bully

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Staff Reporter

A COUNCILLOR is not sexist or a bully despite claims to the contrary, his girlfriend told a tribunal.

The tribunal of Flintshire councillor Patrick Heesom continued yesterday and heard from Denbighshire County Councillor Rhiannon Hughes.

Giving evidence to the tribunal, Cllr Hughes said Cllr Heesom, with whom she has had a relationship for over 30 years, was “a very strong person and a very determined person” who “has the qualities of a leader”.

She said: “I do believe Patrick is in the wrong tier of government. With his intelligence he should be in parliament.”

Cllr Heesom stands accused of six breaches of the councillors’ code of conduct.

Michael Murphy, leading Cllr Heesom’s legal case, said: “It’s been suggested Cllr
Heesom is sexist, can you help the panel with that?”

Cllr Hughes said Cllr Heesom had been very supportive of her, including with her work as leader of Denbighshire Council.

She said: “I was very much part of the Labour party’s women’s organisation and Patrick very much supported that. He’s not sexist. He loves women, he loves working with women, he always has done.”

Mr Murphy then said other witnesses had said they found Cllr Heesom “intimidating” and “threatening” and asked Cllr Hughes: “You have said he’s a powerful speaker. Could someone find that intimidating?”

Cllr Hughes replied: “He has strong views particularly when representing his constituency but there’s no need to call it that.

“Some officers feel threatened by a challenge but they need to understand there needs to be that democratic challenge.”

She added the accusations against Cllr Heesom over the last two years had a negative affect on his health.

The tribunal, at St David’s Park Hotel, Ewloe, also heard yesterday from Ewloe Cllr Alison Halford who had emailed a colleague saying: “Cllr Heesom is clever, but a
bully and destructive”.

Cllr Halford told the tribunal she had not meant this because she was upset and not thinking straight because she was going through a difficult time helping a stray dog badly injured after being run over near her house. She said: “I did not see any bullying behaviour from Cllr Heesom.”

The tribunal continues.

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