Ex-Walsall Council leader charged with child sex offences

Former Walsall Council leader Sean Coughlan has been charged with sex offences.

Sean Coughlan was Walsall Council leader on two occasions
Sean Coughlan was Walsall Council leader on two occasions

The 65-year-old is accused of attempting to cause a female aged 13 or over to engage in a penetrative sexual activity and attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child after being arrested on Thursday.

Councillor Coughlan, who represents Willenhall South on Walsall Council, was due to appear in Wolverhampton Magistrates' Court on Saturday morning.

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said: "A Walsall councillor has been charged with sex offences after his arrest in Willenhall on Thursday (December 2).

"Sean Coughlan, aged 65, is charged with attempting to cause a female aged 13 or over to engage in a penetrative sexual activity and attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child. He will appear at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court today (December 4)."

The Express & Star understands that Councillor Coughlan has been administratively suspended from the Labour Party and the Walsall Council Labour Group pending investigation.

Speaking to the Express & Star, Walsall Labour group leader, Councillor Aftab Nawaz, said: “At the moment it’s a police investigation but I understand he’s been charged.

“He’s handed in resignation and stepped down as councillor so will no longer be a member of the Labour Party."

Councillor Coughlan’s bid to become Walsall Council’s deputy mayor was blocked by the ruling Conservatives earlier this year, who cited his mental health struggles as the main reason.

The controversial decision resulted in the Walsall Labour Group walking out of a full council meeting in protest at the move. Labour put Councillor Coughlan’s name forward for a second time but this was vetoed by legal officers.

In 2019, he said the pressures of being a senior councillor and the collapse of Palfrey Community Association – of which he was chairman – resulted in him suffering depression and attempting to take his own life.

He was first elected into Willenhall South in 1995 and has successfully defended the seat on a number of occasions, the latest being in May this year.

During his career, he rose to become deputy leader and then leader of both his party and Walsall Council, which he was in charge of between 2016 and 2018.

He stepped down as leader of the Walsall Labour Group in 2019 as a result of his mental health issues.

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