A SENIOR councillor is calling for the resignation of Essex Police’s chief constable and criticised an investigation which saw him stand trial for assault after he was cleared.

Tony Cox, Southend’s councillor responsible for transport, waste and regulatory services, was accused of assaulting neighbour Jamie Waterfield and causing him actual bodily harm in May last year.

But a jury was unconvinced by the case put forward by prosecutor Sarah O’Kane and found the councillor innocent after deliberating for a matter of minutes.

The court heard how a row broke out between the men after Mr Cox discovered a “Die” threat on his front door and had accused Mr Waterfield of writing it.

Mr Cox always insisted he believed Mr Waterfield was responsible for the graffiti, but said he did not punch him at any stage.

The court heard Mr Cox told police the only time there had been physical contact was when he pushed Mr Waterfield out of his own flat in defence of himself and his wife.

Now Mr Cox, who said he felt “vindicated” by the jury’s verdict, has accused Essex Police of allowing Mr Waterfield “to run a campaign of terror with complete impunity”.

He added: “No family should have to suffer that. It has been hellish as we’ve endured death threats and harassment.

“This investigation was conducted from the gutter.

“If this is the level of policing that we can expect from Essex Police then the chief constable should do the honourable thing and resign with immediate effect.

“The judge insinuated the CPS should drop the case but they were still hell-bent on prosecution. “Therefore, I too call for the immediate resignation of Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions.”

A police spokesman said: “If a victim makes a complaint or allegation of a crime, it is our duty to investigate.

“The evidence in this case was presented to the CPS who authorised a charge of ABH, and Mr Cox was given a fair trial and the opportunity to explain to a jury what happened in his view.

“Any suggestion of any other motivation on behalf of Essex Police in this case is utterly preposterous and highly offensive to police officers who swear to serve Her Majesty the Queen without fear or favour and who regularly face violence and danger in their work to keep Essex safe..”

A spokesman for CPS said: “We said at the first hearing that this case was suitable to be heard in the magistrates’ court but Mr Cox elected trial at Crown Court.

“This case was reviewed before the trial and we were satisfied the case should continue.

“At the end of the prosecution case the judge can rule that there is no case to answer but it was decided Mr Cox did have a case to answer and it was for the jury to decide.

"After hearing all the evidence, the jury has acquitted Mr Cox and we respect their decision.”