Councillor sent ‘sickening’ messages on authority mobile

Coun Robert Bleakley
Coun Robert Bleakley
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A WIGAN councillor used a local authority mobile to send “sickening” messages and call premium rate sex chat-lines.

The shocking texts were discovered after Coun Robert Bleakley racked up a £2,400 bill on his council phone.

Due to the vile nature of the messages the council has taken the unprecedented step of instructing female officers not to talk to him.

Among the messages, some of which are too explicit to print, include one which states: “Aren’t they ******* idiots. No wonder women are just cooking and washing material.”

In one, discussing the court case of former Lib Dem minister Chris Huhne and ex-wife Vicky Pryce, who were convicted of perverting the course of justice last year, he made remarks too vile for us to report.

In another discussing ex-Lib Dem activist Alison Smith, who accused party peer Lord Rennard of sexual harassment, he wrote: “I see that Alison Smith was on the news complaining about the investigation. Someone please tell her to **** off and don’t come back. What a ******* *****.”

It is not the first time the Tyldesley representative has been embroiled in scandal after he was found earlier this year to have accessed pornographic material on his council computer.

He was also found to have deliberately altered a council email in an attempt to smear senior officer Steve Normington.

At yesterday’s standards hearing a cross-party panel judged he had breached the members’ code of conduct.

Coun Bleakley, who now represents Wigan Independents, did not attend the hearing and has had his council mobile withdrawn and will be ordered to undergo equal opportunities training.

The full investigative report into his behaviour will be posted on the local authority’s website.

Donna Hall, chief executive of Wigan Council, said: “I am appalled and sickened with the language used in these messages. “It is quite clear, judging by the content of the text messages, that he has a problem with women. I will not tolerate this prejudice, nor will I allow him to come into contact with female officers until he has undertaken equal opportunities training.

“After reviewing the evidence the panel agreed that Coun Bleakley had broke the council’s ICT policy and breached sections of the members’ code of conduct when he used his mobile phone inappropriately.

“As a result, Coun Bleakley was given a number of sanctions, including the removal of his IT equipment, including his mobile phone, removal of his internet access. He must also undergo equal opportunities training, and female officers will be instructed not to speak to him.”