Police have decided not to investigate an East Devon councillor and would-be MP after a comment posted on her blog called for a “cull” of Conservatives in East Devon.
Cabinet member and Conservative councillor Phil Twiss took offence at a comment posted on Councillor Claire Wright’s web page in response to a council U-turn on the location for a new office headquarters.
Cllr Twiss told the Echo that following his complaint on November 27, officers visited him this morning, Monday, December 8, and told him they were taking no further action but the matter would be kept on file.
Cllr Wright, independent district and county ward member for Ottery St Mary, removed the post, which was written by a reader, Chris Wilkins.
Critics of the local authority accused Cllr Twiss of over-reacting, wasting police time and playing politics ahead of the general election.
Cllr Wright, a candidate for Parliament next May, recently saw the odds against her unseating the current Tory MP for the area, Hugo Swire, slashed from 50/1 to 16/1.
Cllr Twiss, said: “Some members had expressed concern about the comment and on this basis we sought a view from the police.
“The complaint was never about Cllr Wright, who must have thought that it could have been offensive because in fairness, she took it down the morning it was brought to her attention, but the person who made the comment – we were not to know whether it was a joke or not.”
Mr Wilkins, who wrote “Cull all Tory Councillors” on the website, called the reaction “preposterous and utterly pathetic”.
Cllr Twiss, who is the Tory cabinet member for corporate services, said the text was “highly offensive and threatening”.
A notice pinned to the West Hill Conservative Party notice board said the matter had been referred to the authorities.
He wrote: “No matter how much we disagree on various issues to knowingly publish a comment in likely breach of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 such as this is below contempt and I trust you will join me in condemning this action,”
He added that “in the absence of any sort of explanation” from Cllr Wright, he had “passed the details of the blog together with those of a resident of Feniton to Devon And Cornwall Police Cyber crime unit for comment”.
Cllr Wright said she was always careful to moderate offensive or libellous comments but took the “cull” post “in the electoral sense”.
She also said she felt she was being “targeted” by the Conservative leadership.
“There is an election next May so the stakes seem to be being raised,” she added. “It is a shame that they have forced an unnecessary task onto the police, who are struggling to keep up with important core work.”
A police spokesperson, said: “We can confirm police were contacted about comments made on a blog.
“Officers from the force’s neighbourhood team spoke to the reporting person and offered words of advice.
“The matter has been logged and at this time no further action is being taken.”