Town Hall row a ‘vendetta’

Wigan Council Chief Executive Donna Hall
Wigan Council Chief Executive Donna Hall

A controversial councillor has failed in his second bid for the chief executive of Wigan Council to face a criminal charge.

Coun Bob Brierley appeared before a district judge yesterday in an attempt to convince the court to issue a summons to Donna Hall for perverting the course of justice.

But the bid was rejected by District Judge Carr who said there was no evidence she lied to the police, as Coun Brierley had claimed.

The council has slammed Coun Brierley for bringing the application before the judge, accusing him of running a “vendetta” against its top officer.

Following the rejection, the Hindley Green independent vowed to continue his attempts to have Ms Hall prosecuted, telling the Evening Post he now plans to take the case to the Home Secretary.

The dispute stems from an incident at the town hall in 2013 when the councillor requested a meeting with Ms Hall.

Having been told she was not available, an assault and harassment complaint was lodged against Coun Brierley for his alleged aggressive behaviour.

After police opted not to press charges, Coun Brierley, who denies the details of the complaint, accused Ms Hall of conspiring with her staff to report false allegations.

In a similar court bid last year he attempted to bring a charge of misconduct in public office which was rejected by a district judge.

Having failed, he returned to Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court yesterday in an attempt to lay a different charge.

He told the hearing: “I have come here today to seek justice not compensation.

“(Donna Hall) made a false statement to the police with the intention of prosecuting me and committing me to prison.”

He later told the judge: “Someone who tells lies to the police has committed a serious crime and I’m still going to pursue this with the Home Office.”

Coun Brierley, who was re-elected in Hindley Green this year, claimed the police’s decision not to pursue any further action against him showed the allegations were false.

He also stated he had audio evidence proving the altercation had not taken place as first claimed.

But District Judge Carr said documents showed the case had been dropped because Coun Brierley’s behaviour had improved and the authorities concluded it was not in their interests to proceed.

He told Coun Brierley: “From the documents you have submitted it’s clear that the police took no further action on the basis that you had improved your conduct and there was no further interest in pursing it.

“The gist is that they are not saying that allegation was false. From what I’ve have heard there is no prima facie evidence that Donna Hall lied to the police.”

He added that the number of complaints investigated by police which do not result in prosecution are in the majority.

He said: “In my view there are compelling reasons not to issue a summons in this case.”

Following the hearing Coun Brierley said he was unhappy with the judge’s decision not to listen to an audio recording he had submitted as part of his application.

He said: “I’m not going to let this drop. I may have made a mistake (in the presentation of the claim) but next time will be different.”

Lord Smith, leader of Wigan Council, said in a statement after the hearing: “Coun Brierley’s application was dismissed by the judge as there was no evidence.

“This is the second time that he has wasted public money by taking up the court’s time with an ongoing personal vendetta.

“It is clear that Coun Brierley has an obsession with the chief executive and has spent an enormous amount of time preparing a case which was dismissed in a matter of minutes by the judge.

“The people of Hindley Green deserve much better from their elected member. They should have a councillor who is spending their time in the best interests of their community instead of pursuing this vendetta.

“His continued unreasonable behaviour also creates a significant drain on council staff time which could be spent in a much more productive way for the benefit of the residents of Wigan borough.”