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Sandwell councillor says assault was 'out of character' during four-minute public apology

A councillor has apologised after he was found to have brought Sandwell Council into disrepute following an assault on a blogger.

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Councillor Steve Melia

Labour councillor Steve Melia, who represents Great Barr with Yew Tree, made the four-minute apology during a full council meeting.

He has also resigned from his positions on council committees.

It comes after he was found by the council’s ethics and standards committee to have shown a “lack of remorse” for his actions and had "[fallen] short of the highest standard that is expected of our elected members.”

In February 2022 Councillor Melia pleaded guilty to assault.

It followed an incident outside Sandwell Council House in December 2021 where he knocked a phone out of the hand of a blogger who was filming councillors entering a meeting.

A subsequent standards committee probe found him to have brought the council into disrepute and called on him to apologise. It was also recommended he be stripped of his committee positions.

Addressing the full council meeting, Councillor Melia announced his resignation from committee positions and said: "At no time did I want to hurt anyone, I just wanted the filming to stop."

He added: “The context that leads me to be in this position is because I did attempt to remove a mobile phone from a person’s hand while he was filming. I honestly believed that at the time there was no damage to the phone.

“Mayor, any councillor could feel vulnerable when walking into the Council House when protesters are outside.

“No councillors object to protest but when one person brings a megaphone and calls councillors names, then that could provoke a person.

“I realised in retrospect that I was wrong to respond in the manner that I did. And I deeply regret my actions.

“Mayor, officers and members of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, I would like to sincerely offer my apologies to you all for my action and ensure I assure you that it will not be repeated under any circumstances.

“I would like to give you all the reassurance to know that my behaviour on that evening was totally out of character. And I want to emphasise that it will not happen again."

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