Threat of court action over Wigan councillor's chamber exit

Supporters of an opposition politician at the centre of a bitter row about his resignation hope to take their case to the country's highest courts.

Friday, 26th January 2018, 10:23 am
Updated Friday, 26th January 2018, 4:40 pm
Steve Jones

The Wigan Observer understands former councillor Gareth Fairhurst has sent papers to the High Court asking for judicial review of the case of Bryn independent representative Steve Jones.

Mr Jones and his supporters want a judge to consider their case that he only expressed an intention to resign next month, subsequently changing his mind.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Wigan Council, though, said he stepped down on the day he spoke to senior officers and have called a by-election for February 22.

Mr Fairhurst said: “They think they can get away with this one but we are taking them to the wire.

“We are now seeking an urgent judicial review to stop the by-election and for a judge to hear the case and decide if he did resign or, as we have always said, was only expressing a desire or an intention.”

In a statement on Facebook posted on Sunday Mr Jones said: “Papers have been sent in to the High Court for a judicial review today to prove I am still your councillor.

“I have never resigned my seat to the council.”

Mr Jones has said he has submitted his papers to contest next month’s vote to keep hold of his seat, despite continuing to challenge the grounds for holding it.

The whole row began as it emerged that he had been given a caution for common assault by police early in January.

Wigan Council would not comment on the possible legal proceedings, saying it was up to the High Court to decide whether to list the case or not.However, a council spokesperson said the resignation followed the incident which happened in late December.

“He was subsequently removed from the independent group by Coun Debbie Fairhurst,” said the council spokesman.

“He then tried to change his mind.

“This is not legally possible and a by-election is to be held on February 22. There is clearly a cost to holding a by-election so the decision to stand again following a resignation is very strange.”

The Observer was unable to confirm with the Royal Courts of Justice if the case has been listed yet.