BASILDON Mayor Mo Larkin has split from consort John Handley in the wake of an Echo investigation into his “Walter Mitty” background.

Mrs Larkin issued a statement yesterday distancing herself from Mr Handley after the Echo revealed he was not the war hero, diplomat and legal adviser he claimed to be.

Our probe has also prompted Basildon’s Labour group to contact Essex Police to investigate whether Mr Handley or Mrs Larkin have committed any offences that amount to misconduct in public office.

Yesterday’s Echo revealed how Mr Handley’s long-held claims to have been in the Royal Navy, an international diplomat and hold a doctorate in law were made up as he is a former TV repair man who runs a cleaning business.

In her statement, Mrs Larkin, who has resisted calls from Labour to stand down, said: “Following allegations in the Echo and rumours that have been circulating for some time about John Handley, I would now like to make it public that I ended our relationship last week.

“I will always put the reputation of Basildon borough and that of the office of the mayor above my personal feelings.

“I would like to reiterate that at no stage during our relationship did John exert any influence over council policy or decisions.”

She added: “As far as I am aware no accusations of illegality have been levelled at John. I do however feel it is now up to him to deal with the various accusations.”

Conservative council leader Tony Ball confirmed Mrs Larkin will stay in office.

He said: “She has distanced herself from Mr Handley and will be representing the borough at the Remembrance Sunday parade in Basildon.”

The pair met in 2006 and Mr Handley was introduced as her consort to Basildon Council in 2009.

Mr Handley said he received news of the split from Mrs Larkin in writing.

He said: “I am just a member of the public. We are not a couple any more so it’s not an embarrassment to her. I have never been a part of the council or a Conservative.

“I have only ever driven Mo to places and enjoyed her company.

I adore the woman, but that’s it.”

Mr Handley, who referred to himself as “Dr” due to a PhD obtained from an online unaccredited university, was ejected as a Jehovah’s Witness elder in his hometown of Ramsgate, Kent, for lying after meeting the mayor.

He has never lived with Mrs Larkin.