Julie Marson, MP for Hertford and Stortford, has today commented on the exoneration of Green Party councillor Martin Butcher, the former Chairman of East Herts Council.
In her statement, the local MP said:
“Yesterday, I received a letter from East Herts Council following a complaint I made to them about the X/Twitter activity of Cllr Martin Butcher.
“I was disappointed to learn that the complaint is not capable of further consideration. The Council concluded that Cllr Butcher was not acting in his role as a local councillor when making these tweets. With his party affiliation, chain of office and council positions clearly visible on his account profiles at the time, I am unsure how much clearer Cllr Butcher would have to have made the fact that he was both a councillor and Chairman of the Council before East Herts Council deemed that he was speaking on behalf of the Council’s leadership.
“The Chairman of the Council must maintain an apolitical stance. While the Council’s investigation found that Cllr Butcher’s comments ‘were not apolitical’, they cannot consider this matter any more because he resigned from his position in wake of my complaint, preventing council officers from disciplining him.
“Cllr Crystall, the elected Leader of the Council, also had an opportunity to sack Cllr Butcher and remove the party whip from him. He did neither and Cllr Butcher remains a Green Party councillor on another council. Cllr Crystall, along with Green Party colleagues Cllr Vicky Glover-Ward and Cllr Steven Watson, have since endorsed a view that I have ‘played the Anti-Semitism card’ on this issue.
“I know the disappointment I feel is shared among our community. The Council’s leadership has shown weakness throughout this episode, failing to respond appropriately to the hurt our Jewish community in particular is feeling. I hope they reflect on the precedent they have now set.”