Tory council boss cleared over bullying claims after fractious leadership hustings

Posted On: 
24th June 2018

A Conservative council boss has been cleared of claims he bullied colleges during a leadership hustings as he battled to save his job.

Councillor Graham Butland has been cleared
PA Images

Graham Butland - the chief of Braintree District Council - was investigated after he branded colleagues “a cancer in the group that needs to be cut out”.

Fellow Tory councillor Chris Siddall - who launched the challenge for the Tory group leadership - made the allegations in May in the wake of a fractious hustings in August last year.

EXCL Tory council chief under investigation amid bullying claims

He originally complained locally, but after the allegations were dismissed he took his concerns to the Tory national HQ.

But Cllr Butland has been cleared by the Conservative party of all the allegations, after it was found that the party code had not been breached.

Cllr Butland said: “I am delighted at the outcome of the party’s thorough investigation. Having been cleared of the original complaint last year it has been extremely stressful to have to go through it all again. However that is what the party rules allow."

He added: “I am grateful to colleagues from all political persuasions that have supported me during this very difficult period.

“I trust that Cllr Siddall will accept this second dismissal of his complaint and that the media will give as much publicity to its dismissal as it did when news of its submission was leaked.”

Cllr Butland had been accused of using the private hustings to launch an all-out attack on colleagues who were challenging him for the top spot.

The list included 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”.

A Conservative party spokesperson was unavailable for comment.