Apology given in Basildon councillor Twitter row

Gavin Callaghan, Labour’s candidate for Tory MP John Baron’s Basildon and Billericay seat

Pat and Phil Rackley

First published in Local News
Last updated

A PARLIAMENTARY candidate has apologised for a Twitter rant at a fellow councillor...but has vowed not to change his ways.

Gavin Callaghan, Labour’s candidate for Tory MP John Baron’s Basildon and Billericay seat in 2015, is facing sanctions for allegedly bullying political rival Phil Rackley.

An inquiry into his comments has been going on for seven months now, already costing the taxpayer £5,000, according to Mr Callaghan.

Meanwhile, he has been cleared of any wrongdoing concerning Mr Rackley’s wife Pat, after both the Rackleys controversially left the Labour Party last year to form the Independent Labour Group.

Mr Callaghan faces a hearing about Mr Rackley’s complaint on Wednesday, after claiming the former deputy leader of Basildon’s Labour party left the group to snap up an extra £1,400 in allowances after installing himself as party leader of the independent group.

Mr Callaghan, who represents Pitsea North West, said: “I set out to challenge people on their politics, but never set out to intentionally upset people.

“For that reason, I offer any apology, but I won’t change my politics. I don’t believe I have done anything wrong.”

The inquiry into Mr Callaghan’s comments, which have since been deleted after his account was deactivated, started last May.

He claimed it had cost the taxpayer £5,000 and asked why the Rackleys had highlighted 121 tweets, all of which were investigated.

In his report, the investigating officer Brian Keane picked out three tweets that could be deemed as personal attacks on Mr Rackley – and concluded he has breached the councillor’s code of conduct. These included Mr Callaghan labelling Mr Rackley an “allowance cheat”

and saying he was “ripping off taxpayers” and “it’s starting to look clearly like he left for the extra money”.

The Rackleys, along with Lynda Gordon, left the Labour party in the early 2013.

Mr Callaghan suggested Mrs Rackley was dishonest in the way she left the party, but he has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

But it will be down to Basildon Council’s Joint Standards Committee to determine whether he has broken the rules.

That hearing will be held this Wednesday.

The committee, made up of councillors from across the parties, will also see Mr Callaghan’s apology and will choose to either accept it or continue with the hearing.

Mr Rackley would not comment on the hearing, but said: “We will wait and see what the outcome is of the standards committee meeting.”

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