Investigation finds emails were a ‘clear attempt’ to influence vote

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SENDING out damaging emails out about councillors who were up for reselection was a “clear attempt” to influence members of an approvals committee, an investigation by senior Tory party officials has found.

Regional chairman Debbie Toon carried out an investigation after complaints from Cottingham councillors Geraldine Mathieson and Lena Slater.

The pair were deselected as election candidates after an approvals panel heard claims by Tory Group Secretary Felicity Temple, which included allegations that Coun Mathieson had “destructive allegiances” with campaigners in Bridlington.

The councillors complained that emails, written on behalf of Group officers, were riddled with errors and were a blatant attempt to influence the process. A report co-authored by Mrs Toon agrees.

It found: “The three letters sent to the Association Chairman (David Whincup)... would appear to have been a clear attempt to influence members of the Approvals Committee and were, in our view, entirely inappropriate.”

It says each member was “entitled to make their own decision based on the application form and interviewee before them, without any influence from either within the committee or outside.” But it stops short of punishing those involved and says the councillors should now “resolve past differences”.

Coun Mathieson, who won her appeal against deselection earlier this month, said: “They find people guilty of malpractice and maligning me to try and stop me standing, but they are now telling me to kiss and make up with the very same people without any sanctions whatsoever. I’m sure it’s unconstitutional. I believe I am owed an apology.”