Sorry, I've been a little slow to post this as I've been in London all day and inevitably, SouthEastern Trains were late getting me home. The open letter, shown below, from Cllr Clive Hart, the leader of the Labour Group is self explanatory and so I won't add any corrections or make any comment of my own. I do notice however that Mark Nottingham has now switched his website off from public view! (12:00 it's back on now after edits)
Without wishing to prejudice either side and with Mark's original letter gone from sight on his weblog, I think it's only fair that readers can compare the two, given the fuss surrounding the allegations and counter allegations and so I've included the original letter from Mark, to Clive here.
RESPONSE TO MARK NOTTINGHAM'S 'OPEN LETTER' TO ME
Mark Nottingham's wildly inaccurate and defamatory allegations made in his 'open letter' to me have come as a great disappointment. He appears to be very angry at the situation he finds himself in, and sadly he is therefore lashing out at anyone and everyone, whilst totally failing to look at himself.
Firstly, I can't help but note the timing of Mark's 'open letter' to me which coincides with my having two close relatives (my mother and brother) in hospital, both fighting extremely serious and potentially life threatening conditions.
I have a longstanding and completely unblemished reputation and in particular I have spent the last two decades, leading, supporting and working passionately with and for numerous community, voluntary and political organisations at local, county and national level. My life is an open book. My comprehensive CV is attached to this email and absolutely anyone can follow my daily life through twitter & facebook on the internet.
Labour is a democratic party and local branches choose their own candidates for town, district and county elections, it was therefore Mark's own Ramsgate branch who decided to 'deselect' him. I am a member of Cliftonville branch and I took absolutely no part in the selection meeting held in Ramsgate. I feel extremely sorry for Mark but at the end of the day, members of his own branch, for whatever reason, decided they didn't want him to be their candidate in the 2011 elections. If I were Mark I would be asking myself what had I done to make that happen, not trying to point the finger at everyone else.
Mark's concerns have been thoroughly investigated and rejected by all the relevant bodies and committees here locally in Thanet and following yet further and extremely thorough investigation, the Labour Party South East Regional Director has confirmed "Labour's candidates for Thanet District Council were selected by the Labour Party's agreed process. The allegations made by Mark Nottingham have been fully investigated by the Labour Party and all of his complaints have been dismissed. Mark Nottingham is not a candidate for the Labour Party for the Thanet District Council elections".
Unfortunately, Mark will simply not accept the situation.
Those are the facts, but for clarification of the situation that Mark finds himself in, I now introduce a statement that I would swear to be true in any court in the land:
"On the Saturday morning following the Ramsgate TDC selection meeting in 2010, Mark Nottingham appeared behind me in a car park just off of Northdown Road in Margate, as I was parking my own car.
He came up to me and started to complain that 'someone' had told him I had somehow arranged for him to be de-selected.
I told him he was daft and that I had absolutely no part in the proceedings. Indeed, as group leader, his deselection as a candidate had caused me all kinds of problems. I also told him I was only present in the room on that evening to make the meeting chorate if I was needed (as per party rules). I wasn't needed but I stayed simply to be respectful to all candidates (as did the rest of the Executive Committee). I also told Mark - absolutely truthfully - that had I been allowed to vote, I MOST CERTAINLY WOULD HAVE VOTED FOR HIM.
I then asked Mark who exactly had been saying I'd been working against him, because I wanted to speak to them personally and put them right - I was very assertive with this reply because I knew I had done absolutely no such thing. Mark would not say who and I can only imagine his original suggestion that I was involved in some way was some kind of trick to 'out' me as 'someone against him', if it were true. It didn't work because IT SIMPLY WAS NOT TRUE!
MORE IMPORTANTLY, because I had been so assertive with my absolutely truthful response he then started to get very agitated and told me he didn't care about next year's local elections and that he would 'shred' all those involved in the selection process. He most certainly used the word 'shred' in relation to those involved and although I can't remember his precise words he definitely said he didn't care about next year's elections.
He then walked off and across the road to the Labour office. I was extremely annoyed by his ridiculous allegations and even more so regarding his comments about 'shredding' fellow members and his total disregard for his Labour colleagues and the forthcoming local elections.
I got back into my car, drove out of the car park and stopped just outside the Labour office. I entered and stood in the doorway. In front of at least four other members I shouted from the doorway across the room at Mark that I was appalled by his ridiculous allegations, his remark about shredding his fellow members and his attitude towards the 2011 elections. I added "what happened to you at the selection meeting was a tragedy and as I said, had I been allowed to vote I would have voted for you, but after your comments across the road in the car park just then, I can only say the Ramsgate members made the right decision at your selection meeting, whatever their reasons".
The next morning I met with Mark and another member in the same office in an effort to reconcile matters and by the end of our hour and a half long meeting I truly thought I had convinced Mark of the truth that I had absolutely nothing to do with his deselection. I felt we were leaving that meeting on good terms so I told Mark I would put his appalling comments made in the car park down to his anger and forget the whole matter.
Unfortunately, despite the total absurdity of his allegations, Mark has continued to blame myself and several other innocent members over this matter, and to this very day. He absolutely fails to see that he himself could be in any way responsible for what was clearly his own unpopularity with his Ramsgate colleagues".
I repeat, I am quite prepared to swear the statement above to be true in any court in the land.
I am a team player and always have been. However, I simply refuse to be the leader of a group with a member who behaves in the manner of Mark Nottingham.
- I therefore intend to stand down as the Leader of the Labour Group.
- As I have done consistently, every single day for well over three weeks now, I will continue to visit and support my close family members in our local QEQM hospital.
- I will remain a loyal Labour councillor and continue to work with colleagues Cllrs Linda Aldred and Doug Clark for the residents of Cliftonville West and to retain our seats at TDC, where we still have so much work to do.
- I will continue in my role as secretary of Cliftonville Labour Party.
- I will most certainly continue with all my numerous voluntary and community roles in organisations across Thanet.
7) I will also be taking time to seriously consider possible legal action against Mark Nottingham.
Cllr Clive Hart