Top Tory booted out over bullying claims demands apology after appeal panel rules South Northamptonshire Conservative Association's decision ‘flawed and unreasonable’

‘I’ve been to hell and back, I always knew these allegations were rubbish’ says councillor

Friday, 29th April 2022, 1:25 pm

A Northamptonshire Conservative councillor who was expelled over claims of bullying has demanded an apology from a local Conservative association after being exonerated following an appeal.

Conservative Party HQ upheld an appeal by Ian McCord finding there was “no proper basis” for ejecting the West Northamptonshire councillor shortly after last May’s elections, ruling:

■ The process by the association was flawed

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Ian McCord has won his fight against expulsion from South Northamptonshire Conservative Association on the eve of last year's leadership vote

■ Councillor McCord had just 15 minutes to state his case but the association took considerably longer

■ One complaint was dismissed as being “personal”

■ No proper record of the decision-making process was kept

■ Documents were withheld from Councillor McCord despite given to local members

Councillor McCord said: “In the past 12 months I have been to hell and back. I am pleased to have been completely exonerated. I always knew these allegations were rubbish.

"I said at the time the local association had not followed the rules and I was stitched up and the national Conservative Party have agreed with my assessment.

"It is satisfying to be cleared. I trust those who made this unwarranted attack on my character will unreservedly apologise.”

Councillor McCord was shadow authority leader in the year leading up to last May’s elections and tipped for the same job at the new West Northamptonshire Council.

A month later, South Northamptonshire Conservative Association confirmed his expulsion following an investigation but gave no explanation.

Conservative Party HQ’s appeal ruling, seen by the Chronicle & Echo, found: “There was no proper basis for the expulsion of Councillor McCord. Therefore, the decision of the association was unreasonable.”

The panel reversed Councillor McCord’s expulsion after reviewing hundreds of pages of evidence from the councillor.

It ruled one historic matter which had been dealt with previously should not have been resurrected.

Other complaints were dismissed as being of a “personal nature” and the appeal panel found “it did not appear such allegations could form the basis of an allegation that Councillor McCord was in breach of any rules or that they support an allegation of bullying, breaking trust and confidence or of being dishonest”.

It also admonished the association for providing local members with documents before the meeting but not Councillor McCord, concluding: “These practices did not constitute proper procedure.

"All evidence should have been provided to Councillor McCord and both sides should have been provided with an equal amount of time to present their arguments.”

Councillor McCord had been a Conservative councillor since 2007 and was South Northamptonshire District Council leader from 2015 to 2021.

He has continued to sit on the council as an independent, leading the fight against introducing garden waste collection charges in South Northamptonshire.

A statement from the association said: “South Northamptonshire Conservatives have a zero-tolerance approach to bullying. Following allegations, investigations were carried out under the guidelines given and both the investigation and hearing were monitored by the regional team.

"We await further clarification of the decision to reinstate Cllr McCord to the local party. In the meantime, we have informed the complainants of these developments and we will continue to support them for as long as necessary.”