A Thurrock Labour Councillor may find himself barred from the Council Chamber after an extraordinary outburst where he accused a Conservative Councillor of lying.
The outburst came after a resident, Mr Charles Key, asked for an update on the attempt by Thurrock Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay MP for Thurrock Council to pioneer Alcohol Disorder Zones.
As Councillor Maney was explaining that no trace of any correspondence could be found despite exhaustive and extensive searches by council officers he was interrupted by the former Mayor and Grays Riverside Labour Councillor Carl Morris who accused him of lying.
Councillor Morris who waved a bunch of papers said: “It’s just untrue….he is telling a lie”
Despite the Mayor asking Cllr Morris not to accuse fellow councillor of lying and for Cllr Morris to speak with Cllr Maney after the meeting he continued and said:
“I think there has been an attempt to mislead this Chamber because I e-mailed Councillor Maney this morning, I faxed a copy of the letter over at the request of the PA to the Chief Executive this afternoon. I don’t know what’s happened to it, it was written on the 9th June 2008, and I’ve got a copy of the correspondence. Councillor Maney is fully aware of this correspondence because I e-mailed him this morning. So I can only assume that it is a deliberate attempt to mislead this Chamber and I am quite happy to let whoever wants it to have a copy of everything that MacKinlay sent in last year.”
An appalled Councillor Maney said: “That in all the time that I have been a Member of this Chamber I have never actually heard another Member call another Councillor a liar, which has been said tonight and I think I actually said that members of staff had failed to find any correspondence this evening which led me to conclude there had been none. I did not lie or attempt to mislead the Chamber but I will take that up outside of this Chamber with the Standards Board for England because I think it is a very serious offence to accuse another Councillor of lying.”
“I was absolutely appalled at this bickering…” said South Ockendon resident Peter Perrin who was addressing the Council Chamber on the issue of wheelie bins and continued “This is time allocated to us as members of the public to address a meeting like this and our time has been taken up with that sort of thing.”
Councillor Morris made an unreserved apology and withdrew his remarks and said “I take Peter Perrin’s point about my behaviour and my remarks and I would like to apologise to you and to Members of the Council for my outburst and specifically to Ben for calling him a liar. It was said in the heat of the moment and I unreservedly apologise and withdraw that remark.”
I wonder what Cllr Morris makes of the Conservative proposal to abolish the Standards Board? I would think that now he has apologised it would be reasonable to "move on." But to accuse someone of lying for saying that haven't seen an email – on the basis that the email was sent – is pretty crass. Councillors got a huge amount of emails. If you go away for a few days there are literally hundreds of them.