"I feel vindicated" says Barnet blogger after Coleman's code breach

Times Series: In breach: Barnet councillor Brian Coleman In breach: Barnet councillor Brian Coleman

DISGRACED councillor Brian Coleman is only the second serving councillor to breach the council code of conduct in the past ten years.

The revelation came after the serving mayor of Barnet was found to have acted improperly during email correspondence with a blogger, whom he branded an “obsessive, poisonous individual”.

He was hauled up in front of the standards sub-committee last Thursday to respond to a complaint made by Mill Hill musician Roger Tichborne, the author of the blog Barnet Eye Independent investigator Melanie Carter had previously concluded in a report that Mr Coleman had failed to comply with Paragraph 3 of the code: failing to treat others with respect, in relation to the email.

The Conservative councillor for Totteridge was responding to an email sent by Mr Tichborne to all Conservative Barnet councillors addressing council leader Mike Freer on comments he made in a podcast about bloggers.

Ms Carter said at the meeting that both sides accepted the blogger’s initial email was “respectful, measured and polite” and did not warrant what she called an “extremely offensive abusive and disrespectful” response.

She asked the committee to consider whether the words “obsessive” and “poisonous” fall into a benign category and if it constituted “respectful communication”.

Representations were made to the hearing by Mr Coleman’s solicitor Stephen Hocking, of Beachcroft Ltd, who highlighted his client’s rights to freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said there was a defence in having a freedom of speech to respond to a blog he claimed had provoked Mr Coleman. The councillor himself said he had been subjected to “abject personal abuse” which was beyond “normal political dialogue”.

He highlighted references to Mr Coleman by Mr Tichborne where he called him a “hypocrite”, “arrogant, lazy and useless” and “Barnet’s favourite numpty”.

Mr Hocking said the blogs forced councillors to accept being vilified without being able to defend themselves.

But Ms Carter said Mr Coleman was not responding to a blog, but a “reasonable email”, and Mr Carter was unable to persuade officials that the London assembly member for Barnet and Camden had acted in a proper way.

Chairman of the committee, independent member Stephen Ross, said the breach was not serious enough to warrant a sanction being imposed on Mr Coleman, but he is liable to reimburse the council for the £10,000 legal cost paid out to employ Beachcroft Ltd.

In 2004, former councillor Alan Sloam was the only person since 1999 to be found in breach of the code after an adjudication panel ruled he had tried to fraudulently use a disabled parking badge. He was disqualified from office.

Speaking after last week’s hearing, Mr Tichborne said the decision vindicated him bringing the complaint.

He said: “I hope he learns something from this. I am disappointed the council didn’t feel it right and proper to make some sort of example of Mr Coleman to show elected members they shouldn’t treat members of the public in this way.

“I am not saying I don’t talk about him in strident terms, but he has a history of making outrageous comments.

“My advice to Coleman would be to concentrate on being a politician and doing a good job for the people of Barnet because obviously some people like him and respect him and he undermines that by making clearly inflammatory remarks.”

The reasons for the committee’s decision will be set out in writing in a notice to be sent to the parties within two weeks.

Comments (12)

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1:49pm Thu 17 Sep 09

ETB says...

My guess is that in spite of Brian's insistence on using Beechcroft instead of the lower cost representation the council (allegedly) sourced for him, they will let him off the £10,000 fee. That is their long-established reaction to his enormous extravagance.

My personal view is that he's the visible veloceraptor ("clever girl") in the Jurassic Park that is Barnet corporation. We all look at him while the others sneak around demolishing public services and removing wardens from sheltered housing. He's a Zaphod Beeblebrox figure - a distracting clown-president.

Where have we seen another of those recently, albeit on a larger scale?
My guess is that in spite of Brian's insistence on using Beechcroft instead of the lower cost representation the council (allegedly) sourced for him, they will let him off the £10,000 fee. That is their long-established reaction to his enormous extravagance. My personal view is that he's the visible veloceraptor ("clever girl") in the Jurassic Park that is Barnet corporation. We all look at him while the others sneak around demolishing public services and removing wardens from sheltered housing. He's a Zaphod Beeblebrox figure - a distracting clown-president. Where have we seen another of those recently, albeit on a larger scale? ETB

7:54pm Thu 17 Sep 09

T Mark says...

Beautifully put ETB. Glad to see Rog T vindicated as well. Keep on Truckin'
Beautifully put ETB. Glad to see Rog T vindicated as well. Keep on Truckin' T Mark

9:05am Fri 18 Sep 09

educated says...

Absolutely no way should he be let off the legal fee. He should pay for it out of his own pocket.

If I took someone to law and lost, then I would have to pay the legal fees (and probably damages to the accused).

The Council Tax payers should not have to foot the bill. Hopefully the Times-Series will keep a watching eye on this and report accordingly.

Absolutely no way should he be let off the legal fee. He should pay for it out of his own pocket. If I took someone to law and lost, then I would have to pay the legal fees (and probably damages to the accused). The Council Tax payers should not have to foot the bill. Hopefully the Times-Series will keep a watching eye on this and report accordingly. educated

6:42pm Fri 18 Sep 09

hunter999 says...

Roger Tichborne. You are one Sad individual. You're Ok to give Stick but cant take it back and are very quick to run to Teacher. Coleman achieves more for Barnet in a week than you have probably given to the Borough in your Life. You and Your labour Cronies will have to think of something a little smarter to even get 1 back seat at the next local election
Roger Tichborne. You are one Sad individual. You're Ok to give Stick but cant take it back and are very quick to run to Teacher. Coleman achieves more for Barnet in a week than you have probably given to the Borough in your Life. You and Your labour Cronies will have to think of something a little smarter to even get 1 back seat at the next local election hunter999

11:01am Sat 19 Sep 09

Rog T says...

Hunter999,
So you are aware of all the things I've given to the Borough of Barnet in my lifetime are you?

What has Brian Coleman given to Barnet in the last week? He is paid over £100,000 per annum by the Taxpayer for his services. In my book that isn't giving.

I've organised dozens of charity fundraising events for TCT, MacMillan Cancer relief, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, CND,etc. I've set up a studio that employs 9 people, 2 of whom were on long term disabilty and has help launch the career of 2 Brit Award winners, I've helped organised several local festivals for many years, I've volounteered as a helper to take local disabled people on holday for the last 8 years.

I've not been paid a penny for any of this. You name me a week when Brian Coleman has done as much for free and I'll give £50 to the charity of your choice

Hunter999, So you are aware of all the things I've given to the Borough of Barnet in my lifetime are you? What has Brian Coleman given to Barnet in the last week? He is paid over £100,000 per annum by the Taxpayer for his services. In my book that isn't giving. I've organised dozens of charity fundraising events for TCT, MacMillan Cancer relief, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, CND,etc. I've set up a studio that employs 9 people, 2 of whom were on long term disabilty and has help launch the career of 2 Brit Award winners, I've helped organised several local festivals for many years, I've volounteered as a helper to take local disabled people on holday for the last 8 years. I've not been paid a penny for any of this. You name me a week when Brian Coleman has done as much for free and I'll give £50 to the charity of your choice Rog T

4:51pm Sun 20 Sep 09

ETB says...

If I remember correctly Labour already has a back seat in the council, so I don't know why they'd want to win another one. Brian does tons for Barnet.

He was out this afternoon, exercising the limousine for example. He gets all those baubles, chains and other corporation bling out and makes sure it gets to functions and stuff. And he's busy spending the Fire Brigade's money for them, so they don't waste it. And somebody's got to eat all those meals.
If I remember correctly Labour already has a back seat in the council, so I don't know why they'd want to win another one. Brian does tons for Barnet. He was out this afternoon, exercising the limousine for example. He gets all those baubles, chains and other corporation bling out and makes sure it gets to functions and stuff. And he's busy spending the Fire Brigade's money for them, so they don't waste it. And somebody's got to eat all those meals. ETB

9:50pm Tue 22 Sep 09

Andy McD says...

I remember asking Brian Coleman for a cup of tea once and guess what? He looked me in the eye and laughed...A cold hearted man
I remember asking Brian Coleman for a cup of tea once and guess what? He looked me in the eye and laughed...A cold hearted man Andy McD

1:47pm Wed 23 Sep 09

hunter999 says...

Hey Rog

Get over yourself. We all give to Charity. But we dont all make a Big song and dance of it.

Everybody reading the Story will make their own mind up what your true intention in this affair was.

Im sure everybody emailing you in future will be wary in case they hurt your feelings. You seem to be a somewhat sensative person.

Anyway you and your mates in the Barnet Labour Party have had your 5 minutes of fame now.

As I say it wont affect the outcome of the next Local Election.
Hey Rog Get over yourself. We all give to Charity. But we dont all make a Big song and dance of it. Everybody reading the Story will make their own mind up what your true intention in this affair was. Im sure everybody emailing you in future will be wary in case they hurt your feelings. You seem to be a somewhat sensative person. Anyway you and your mates in the Barnet Labour Party have had your 5 minutes of fame now. As I say it wont affect the outcome of the next Local Election. hunter999

2:29pm Wed 23 Sep 09

Rog T says...

Hunter999,
Seems from the poll that you are right, they have made theri own mind up.
I take it from your follow up comment that you are unable to find any evidence of Brian Coleman "giving so much to the people of Barnet"

As Mr Coleman admitted in his statement, my complaint was nothing to do with the Barnet Labour party.

And as to the result of the local elections, I wouldn't be so arrogant as to make such sweeping statements, if I were you. You may get a nasty surprise.
Hunter999, Seems from the poll that you are right, they have made theri own mind up. I take it from your follow up comment that you are unable to find any evidence of Brian Coleman "giving so much to the people of Barnet" As Mr Coleman admitted in his statement, my complaint was nothing to do with the Barnet Labour party. And as to the result of the local elections, I wouldn't be so arrogant as to make such sweeping statements, if I were you. You may get a nasty surprise. Rog T

3:31pm Wed 23 Sep 09

ETB says...

At least we know Hunter is neither Brian nor his mum. They can both spell.
At least we know Hunter is neither Brian nor his mum. They can both spell. ETB

5:58pm Wed 23 Sep 09

hunter999 says...

Yes Roger. That Hendon Times Poll. Wow. YouGov and Mori might as well pack up now. The "Hendon Times" Poll of Polls is what its all about.

As for Brian thanks to him at least motorists can drive round the Borough without getting their suspensions and axles torn apart from those Speed Humps your Labour friends tried to put in every street in the Borough. Im sure there are loads of other things he has achieved in his long service to the Borough to which he has been rewarded quite rightly with the Office of Mayor.

As for the local elections I suggest you prepare yourself for yet another huge disappointment in 2010. Just check the latest YouGov National Poll. Or maybe you could give yourself some hope by getting your mates at the Hendon Times to organise one of their own.
Yes Roger. That Hendon Times Poll. Wow. YouGov and Mori might as well pack up now. The "Hendon Times" Poll of Polls is what its all about. As for Brian thanks to him at least motorists can drive round the Borough without getting their suspensions and axles torn apart from those Speed Humps your Labour friends tried to put in every street in the Borough. Im sure there are loads of other things he has achieved in his long service to the Borough to which he has been rewarded quite rightly with the Office of Mayor. As for the local elections I suggest you prepare yourself for yet another huge disappointment in 2010. Just check the latest YouGov National Poll. Or maybe you could give yourself some hope by getting your mates at the Hendon Times to organise one of their own. hunter999

7:58pm Wed 23 Sep 09

Rog T says...

Hunter999,
Lets remind ourselves of your comments. First that Brian Coleman did more for Barnet in a week than I did in my life. When challenged, you changed this to "At least he ripped out the road humps in a few roads, so motorists can speed on our backstreets and ratruns" or words to that effect.

Secondly you use the term "friends" as an insult. Don't you have any?

If you were to ask me what the Coleman's biggest achievement was, I'd say knifing Brian Salinger in the back immediately after the 2006 council elections. This let Mike Freer become leader and lead to Iceland, Aerodromeroad, tellygate, to name but a few scandals. I may be wrong, but my perception is that making Coleman Mayor was Mike's thank you for organising the palace coup.

You deride the poll, but I'm sure it's not just my friends who look at this website. Given that Barnet is a Tory Borough, I think that it is incredible that so few people have "clicked for Coleman" (or maybe not). Do you really think I've got that many "friends" and I'm "that popular" ? I'm pleased you think I'm such a great bloke.

As to the people you support, I'd suggest you face the facts.
Hunter999, Lets remind ourselves of your comments. First that Brian Coleman did more for Barnet in a week than I did in my life. When challenged, you changed this to "At least he ripped out the road humps in a few roads, so motorists can speed on our backstreets and ratruns" or words to that effect. Secondly you use the term "friends" as an insult. Don't you have any? If you were to ask me what the Coleman's biggest achievement was, I'd say knifing Brian Salinger in the back immediately after the 2006 council elections. This let Mike Freer become leader and lead to Iceland, Aerodromeroad, tellygate, to name but a few scandals. I may be wrong, but my perception is that making Coleman Mayor was Mike's thank you for organising the palace coup. You deride the poll, but I'm sure it's not just my friends who look at this website. Given that Barnet is a Tory Borough, I think that it is incredible that so few people have "clicked for Coleman" (or maybe not). Do you really think I've got that many "friends" and I'm "that popular" ? I'm pleased you think I'm such a great bloke. As to the people you support, I'd suggest you face the facts. Rog T
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