Former councillor broke rules over 'highly offensive messages about female colleagues'

A disgraced ex-Sandwell councillor did breach the authority’s code of conduct through a series of offensive WhatsApp messages, it has been found.

Former councillor Richard Marshall
Former councillor Richard Marshall

Richard Marshall, the council’s former leisure boss, was suspended by the Labour Party following allegations he sent offensive messages about female colleagues.

A report on Mr Marshall’s actions by law firm Wilkin Chapman LLP on behalf of Sandwell Council has now found that the senior councillor ‘failed to treat others with respect’ and that this had caused a breach of the council’s code of conduct.

The probe was launched after a complaint was made that the former Smethwick councillor had sent WhatsApp messages containing derogatory and sexually explicit remarks about councillors Olwen Jones and Maria Crompton.

Councillor Crompton said that she found the comments made about her ‘highly offensive’, ‘humiliating’ and ‘degrading’ and that it brought her to tears.

Councillor Crompton was interviewed by police over the allegations, according to the report, although it is no longer being investigated.

The messages were allegedly sent between Mr Marshall, who stepped down as a councillor, and a blogger between August 2016 and May 2017.

Screenshots of the messages were posted to a blog in 2017.

Councillor Marshall claims in the Wilkin Chapman report that the comments ‘were never meant for public viewing’.

He said: “It was a private conversation between two individuals to what he openly advertised as a ‘confidential hotline’. I disagree in main with the report.”

The Ethical Standards Committee at Sandwell Council will hear the results of the report at a meeting on Friday.

It will also hear that the council cannot take any further action as Mr Marshall is no longer a councillor.

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