Yorkshire parish council meeting 'descends into farce' when clerk knocks phone out of 'disruptive' woman's hand

A parish council meeting descended into farce when a clerk knocked a phone out of spectator’s hand during a heated exchange about bullying.

Police were called after the incident at Cottingham Parish Council near Hull when clerk Matthew Kay took offence to the comments and behaviour of a member of the public.

He said he “acted instinctively” as the spectator filmed a discussion between parish councillors and himself. He then stormed out of the meeting.

Police investigated the incident and spoke to Mr Kay and a local resident.

Cottingham

Now, Mr Kay, who has since resigned his post, says he “regrets” the incident, but claimed it followed months of bullying from some members of the public who attended the meetings.

The incident was filmed on Tuesday, July 5. The row began when Mr Kay spoke about the abuse he claimed he had faced at meetings.

Mr Kay was interrupted by Cllr Helen Green, who spotted and condemned a “cuckoo” gesture allegedly made by the woman filming the exchange from the public gallery.

Cllr Green imitated the gesture and told the woman: “I don’t think it’s acceptable for you to be doing this.”

However, the woman filming the exchange replied, saying: “It’s not verbal, you just did it as well. I can do what I like Helen, thank you.”

In the video, the woman can be heard calling Mr Kay paranoid.

The footage then shows him getting up, storming past her and knocking the phone out of her hand as he leaves the meeting.

People can then be heard talking about calling the police.

Mr Kay said he had repeatedly complained about bullying he claims to have faced from some members of the public. He said the incidents stretched back to May last year.

He said: “What is not shown is that throughout the meeting the person who recorded the clip was loud, disruptive, and had made several snide comments about technical difficulties that we were experiencing that evening.

“As you can see mentioned in the clip, she was making the ‘cuckoo’ gesture behind my back and then called me paranoid.

“I find it utterly abhorrent that such a gesture and comments would be made whilst someone was highlighting abuse they had received.

“It’s a perfect example of victim blaming and gaslighting. I was not willing to tolerate such abuse and decided to leave the meeting.”

He added: “As I walked passed my personal space was invaded when she thrust the camera/phone towards me. I instinctively reacted by pushing the phone away, which then fell on the floor.

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“I do regret doing this, but as I say it was an instinctive reaction and followed from much abuse and goading.

“It sickens me that I am the victim in this case but am being made out to have done something wrong.

“Unfortunately abuse like this has become increasingly common in the town/parish council sector and the turnover of clerks is at an all-time high.

“There seems to be this view that because we are public sector employees we are fair game for abuse from both members of the public and councillors.”

Humberside Police investigated the incident and no charges were brought as a result of the exchange.

In a statement to, the force said: “We reviewed footage and talked to both parties involved about their conduct.”

Cottingham Parish Council has been contacted for comment.