AS his time as leader of Barnet Council comes to an end, Councillor Mike Freer admits the way he took on the post was “necessary” to nullify discontent in the party.

The outgoing Tory leader, who announced on Wednesday he was going to step down from the position next month, took control of the party in what was termed at the time “a right wing coup” in 2006.

Less than a week after the elections, the then victorious leader Brian Salinger was ousted following a vote of no confidence from his colleagues.

A group of councillors, led by Cllr Freer and Councillor Brian Coleman, passed the vote 21 to 16, clearing the way for Cllr Freer to gain control.

The move was greeted with outrage from all sides with Labour group leader Alison Moore branding it “a right wing coup” adding the the electorate had a right to feel cheated after voting for a Mr Salinger-led Tory party, but getting Cllr Freer instead.

Cllr Saligner described it as "underhand and disgraceful".

At the time, Cllr Freer dismissed all suggestion of a conspiracy and said it was part of politics.

And speaking this week, following his decision to stand down, Cllr Freer said: “I think it's true to say I didn't particularly want to be leader but I've loved every minute of it.

“At the time the group had been through a period of turbulence, a lot of members were unhappy. And the way these things are dealt with are never comfortable but sometimes they are necessary.

“And one of the things I am pleased with is my group has had a period of stability, harmony, and we get on very well as a team.”