McGurrin had ‘abused her position of power’

Wigan Metropolitan Borough Local Election Count 2010:  Emma McGurrin celebrates taking Standish with Langtree
Wigan Metropolitan Borough Local Election Count 2010: Emma McGurrin celebrates taking Standish with Langtree

WIGAN council officials said ex-councillor Emma McGurrin’s jail sentence was proof of their determination to “stamp out bad behaviour”.

The former Labour Party member is starting an eight-month sentence today and has courted controversy throughout her political career.

Despite losing her council seat in May’s elections, Ms McGurrin was sanctioned by the local authority in November due to her behaviour at Wigan Infirmary in a dispute over the care of a patient.

Earlier in the year, she was locked in a row with the council over allegations she had racked up a £1,300 bill for personal calls on her authority-supplied smart phone.

She had claimed she was a victim of a council “political witch hunt”.

Reacting to yesterday’s sentencing, a council spokesman said: “Councillors are elected by the people of the borough who expect them to be honest, respectful and live up to the trust placed in them by the electorate.

“Thankfully these are qualities most of our councillors possess, but this is not true of former councillor Emma McGurrin – sadly she chose to abuse her position of power and responsibility.

“The council hopes this sentence helps to restore people’s faith in local democracy and underlines Wigan Council’s determination to stamp out this bad behaviour no matter what political party a councillor is a member of. Unfortunately, Wigan Council does not have the power to remove badly behaved councillors – only voters can do that through the ballot box.”

In 2012, the then councillor McGurrin was cleared of breaching the council’s code of conduct in relation to an allegation of racist abuse towards a taxi driver.

At the time she said she was “delighted and relieved” as the standards panel found she was not acting in her capacity as a councillor.

She said her words had been taken out of context and that she had been misunderstood.