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Insult upon insult

When a councillor fired off an unprovoked rude email to an Operation Black Vote staff member, the campaign organisation simply asked for an apology. Over a year later, not only has no apology been forthcoming, but the council ruled that the elected politician was right to call an OBV worker “stupid.”

OBV blasted Liverpool City Council for clearing Councillor Steve Radford after he took offence at an innocent error when a letter – thanking him for taking part in a shadowing scheme – referred to his party as the “Liberal Democrats” rather than the Liberal Party he represents.

Simon Woolley, OBV director, said he was “astounded” that Liverpool Council’s standards bosses decided that Cllr Radford’s sensitivities over being called a Liberal Democrat gave him the right to call the staff member stupid.

In an email to a female employee in October 2008, Cllr Radford wrote: “I do not appreciate your stupidity and offense of writing to me as a Lberal Democat. If you cant respect my role as Leader and Pesident of The liberal Party dont wrte to me at all.” [spelling mistakes included].

Astonishingly, a Liverpool council lawyer wrote to OBV claiming that Cllr Radford’s behaviour was “not a failure to treat her with respect.”

Believing that Cllr Radford (pictured) had been unjustifiably rude to a staff member, OBV asked for an apology. When none was forthcoming, OBV made a complaint to the council. OBV learnt of the conclusion today after reading the Liverpool Post today.

Woolley said he was mystified why his organisation had not been informed before the press, stunned as to why the council should have taken over a year to deal with the complaint, shocked that they wasted a reported £4,000 on the investigation, and furious at the conclusion.
He said: “All we asked for was a simple apology.

Instead, after over a year of waiting, we read a highly selective report in a Liverpool newspaper that is attacking us. I think many people would agree that Councillor Radford’s manner was abusive and rude, but the city council have decided that his abusiveness language is justified if anyone should mistakenly call him a Liberal Democrat instead of a Liberal.”

Astonishingly, after OBV asked for an apology a Liverpool council lawyer send OBV an email saying: “Though [Cllr Radford’s] e-mail to OBV caused offence, on balance I did not find it disrespectful in the context of all the communications between him and OBV.”

The same lawyer later wrote: “Though I have said that Councillor Radford’s use of language was unwise and caused offence… on balance, I concluded that his remark was not a failure to treat her with respect in the context of his dealings with OBV.

“Factors which caused me to conclude this were the particular sensitivity to Councillor Radford of calling him a member of the Liberal Democrat Party.”

Responding to the conclusion of the matter today, Woolley said: “We are a national organisation which will fight bigotry and abusiveness, but what chance do ordinary Liverpool citizens have when they want to hold their elected representatives to account?

“This case is not just about an individual being abused, it’s also about Liverpool city councils accountablity to decency, which in this case has miserably failed.”

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