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EXCL Tory council chief under investigation amid bullying claims

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

The Conservative party is investigating a local council leader over claims he bullied colleagues by branding them “a cancer in the group that needs to be cut out”.

Graham Butland - the chief of Braintree District Council - stands accused of using “bullying, intimidating and abusive language” during a fight for his job last year. He rejects the allegations.

Fellow Tory councillor Chris Siddall - who launched a challenge for the Tory group leadership - made the allegations earlier this month in the wake of a fractious hustings in August.

According to the list of claims, seen by PoliticsHome, Cllr Butland stands accused of using the private event to launch an all-out attack on colleagues who were challenging him for the top spot.

The list includes a claim he “used defamatory language at a group meeting prior to the leadership election” by branding colleagues “a boil that needed to be lanced” and “a cancer in the group that needs to be cut out".

Cllr Siddall is understood to have argued that the language used was “not just unprofessional and uncollegiate” but “damaging to the group and to the Conservative party”.

And he said Cllr Butland had at the hustings and on other occasions “used bullying, intimidating and abusive language and inappropriate behaviour”.

PoliticsHome understands Cllr Butland does not consider the "boil" and "cancer" phrases to constitute bullying and intimidation and is unaware of any "inappropriate behavoiur" alleged.

Cllr Butland has submitted his own evidence to Tory HQ rejecting the claims.

A Conservative party spokesperson told PoliticsHome: “We do not comment on ongoing investigations.”

Neither Cllr Butland or Cllr Siddall were available for further comment.

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