Party now suspend ‘forgery’ councillor

Cllr Robert Bleakley
Cllr Robert Bleakley

THE Wigan councillor being investigated by police for an alleged act of forgery has now been suspended by his political party pending the outcome.

Coun Robert Bleakley has admitted “doctoring” an email from a council officer by inserting a malicious claim about the director of economy Steve Normington then passing it off as a legitimate town hall communication.

Political allies say that the judgement of the former Lib Dem election agent of the year was clouded because of the upset of losing his mother earlier in the year.

Coun Bleakley has apologised for the incident and asked the council to “move on”.

However, he may yet face legal action from the trade union, Unison, which represents the two officers mentioned in the rogue email.

Liberal Democrat headquarters today confirmed that he had been suspended while the probe continues.

A spokesman for the party said: “We have suspended Coun Bleakley while official investigations take place.

“Once they are complete, the party will consider if any further action needs to be taken.”

However, a town hall spokesman said today that the authority had not been informed that Coun Bleakley had been suspended by the party.

He added: “If this is the case he still remains a councillor and is able to represent his constituents.”

Coun Bleakley is said to have altered an email about winter road grit and salt ward allocations to include a statement that showed that Mr Normington favoured the majority Labour group councillors and had advised town hall colleagues to only deal with them rather than opposition members.

Chief executive Donna Hall said that she had been forced to call in police to investigate Coun Bleakley’s actions because it was a “very serious” complaint and Coun Bleakley’s allegations “could have resulted in the dismissal” of two council officers if the email had not been subsequently revealed as a forgery.

Ms Hall has also written to all councillors warned them to treat officials with respect.