Cllr Norton and Attacks on Journalists
A Letter to the Editor from NYE Police & Crime correspondent TIM HICKS, who writes on the associated subjects of irresponsible protesters, the suppression of journalists and the pressing need for Councillor ‘Gluey’ Norton to resign.
I read Nigel Ward’s article entitled “‘Gluey’ Comes Unstuck”:
in which he announced that Councillor Theresa Norton (better known as ‘Gluey’ in her ward) has had the Labour whip withdrawn from her, because of her activities as an eco-loon protestor, for which she has been arrested numerous times and been imprisoned. She was in flagrant breach of Labour Party policy and as such could no longer hold the whip.
NYE sources indicate that the decision to withdraw the whip was taken by the Labour Party Leader, Mr Keir Starmer. It should never have got to that stage. The whip should have been removed months ago. The fact that National leadership has had to step in and resolve a local problem that SBC Labour Leader Steve Siddons should have dealt with shows just how ineffectual his Leadership is and has been.
This was long overdue and it is a disgrace that Councillor Siddons protected her from the consequences of her actions for so long. However, there are other issues associated with Councillor Norton’s actions in support of “Just Stop Oil” (JSO) and “Insulate Britain” (IB). It seems to me that these are:
- Councillor Norton was elected as a Labour Councillor and would never have been elected as an Independent. She seems to have abandoned the Labour Party, but will not stand down to give her electorate the opportunity of electing a new Councillor who represents their views. She is, in short, defrauding the voters of the Eastfield Ward of their right to have a Ward Councillor from the party for whom they want to vote.
- Councillor Norton receives an allowance from the Council to compensate her for spending time working as a Councillor, looking after her constituents interests. She cannot be doing this from inside a cell or halfway up a gantry. She appears to be completely dedicated to her activities as an eco-loon. Now she does not even have a constituency office. It appears she is not performing the duties of a Councillor, but still takes the Allowance – an abuse of public funds.
- According to media reports, the disruption caused by Councillor Norton and her JSO colleagues acting jointly as a body in common purpose caused a motorway pile up in which two lorries were damaged and a police motorcyclist injured (see illustration above). It is only a question of time before these people cause the loss of human life. This is incompatible with being an elected official in a democratic society.
An honourable person would have resigned, stopped taking the money and stopped being an embarrassment to the Council, the Labour Party and her electors – thereby allowing another candidate to properly represent the interests and views of Eastfield Ward on the Council. Councillor Norton has not done this.
In my view, all of these factors mean that Councillor Norton has to go.
There are other wider issues I would to mention in passing.
It is clear that the policing of these JSO protests has been completely ineffective. The Police have stood by while protestors have caused chaos. Instead, they have started arresting journalists for covering the protests. The link below shows LBC journalist Charlotte Lynch describing how she was arrested, handcuffed, searched, fingerprinted, had DNA taken, was photographed and taken to a cell and held for five hours for Conspiracy to Cause Public Nuisance.
Her crime? Covering the protest from a public place, even though she was away from the protest, she was not interfering with the Police and despite showing her press card. Her equipment was also seized. Predictably, she was released without charge.
Rich Felgate and photographer Tom Bowles were also arrested. This link shows them being arrested and handcuffed for Conspiracy to Cause Public Nuisance for covering the protest.
Like Charlotte, they were filming from a public place, away from the protest, and not interfering with the Police operation in any way. Tom showed his press card but was nevertheless searched and held for thirteen hours. In the meantime, Police obtained a search warrant and searched his home – even though he was demonstrably a member of the media.
Hertfordshire Police & Crime Commissioner David Lloyd conceded that these arrests should not have been made, but justified them on the basis that journalists were giving the protesters ‘the oxygen of publicity’ because ‘they are only doing it because they know it is going to be reported‘.
It cannot be right for the Police to prevent media coverage by concocting an excuse to falsely arrest journalists to deny the public access to information on what is going on and because they do not like the media coverage exposing the inability of the police to respond to these protests. The JSO protesters are a policing issue, not a media problem. The media must report what is going on impartially instead of submitting to censorship by the Police.
These tactics have also been employed in Scarborough. SBC has proscribed the NYE for criticising the Council. If anyone from the NYE contacts SBC, the only response they get is an automatically generated email stating:
“If you have previously been informed that you have been declared a ‘unreasonably persistent complainant’ by the Council, in line with our policy, your email has been redirected to a single point of contact and will be dealt with as appropriate. Further emails from you will continue to be directed to a single point of contact until you are informed otherwise.
If you have not been designated under the Policy, your email will be forwarded to the correct recipient. Please do not reply to this email address or use it in the future.”
This policy allows SBC to evade legitimate media enquiries. SBC recently used this policy to justify trying to have an NYE reporter ejected by force from a Council meeting he was covering from the public gallery, by two of the Council’s security men. As Nigel Ward pointed out in his article, it is clearly ridiculous for Councillor Siddons to support someone like Councillor Norton on the one hand, whilst, on the other, proscribing journalists and using the unlawful threat of force, to prevent journalists who are exercising their right to cover local issues.
Readers may not be aware that, with reference to Gluey’s antics, Private Eye magazine has adopted a more sardonic approach: