Councillor has suspension lifted

Labour Party HQ

A protracted Oldham story in which Neil Wilby Media has again taken the lead, and kept the Borough’s residents informed, can now be concluded.

In a letter from Labour Party HQ, dated 9th February, 2023, the long-serving and highly respected representative for the Chadderton South ward, Cllr Graham Shuttleworth had his status as a full member of the Party restored, and was informed that no further action was to be taken against him, following a complaint made by Oldham Labour Group’s Organiser, Tony Short.

On 26th October, 2022 an exclusive published on Neil Wilby Media set out the bare details of a dispute between those two experienced Labour Party activists in the famous old East Lancashire mill town.

It was headlined ‘Councillor Comes Clean’ (read full article here) and followed local newspaper reports that an un-named Labour councillor sitting on Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council had been ‘administratively suspended’ by his Party.

Cllr Shuttleworth, who has represented Chadderton South for almost twelve years was actually suspended by his Party over two months earlier. A matter that had been concealed  from local and regional journalists, by Labour and the Council, for reasons that are yet to be disclosed.

In the October article, Cllr Shuttleworth, in order to end wild conspiracy theories about the suspension, and the reasons behind it, gave brief details of the complaint against him. Tony Short declined to comment when approached.

The source of the leak to Greater Manchester’s most notorious conspiracy theorist, Raja Miah (read more here), has yet to be identified.

The Labour Leader, Cllr Amanda Chadderton, didn’t acknowledge or reply to the email asking for comment or a statement. A routine occurrence, regrettably, and a just one of the reasons why such a poor resident-facing culture exists, top down, in Oldham Council. Aped as it is by senior paid officers.

More details about the complaint, such as it is, emerged at the beginning of this month (1st February, 2023): Cllr Shuttleworth, during a heated discussion with Tony Short shortly before the last local elections in May, 2022, called him a ‘twat’. It spawned a brutal, hard-hitting take-down of the Oldham and National Labour Parties headlined ‘How can this take so long’ (read in full here).

After contacting Labour Party HQ, Cllr Shuttleworth was approached and provided this statement:

“Having been administratively suspended from the Labour Party since 16th August 2022, following a formal complaint to the National Party for allegedly ‘threatening an employee of the Party’ it was a great pleasure to receive notice last week (9th February) that, following an an assessment of these allegations, the Party’s NEC Panel ‘did not consider that Councillor Shuttleworth had threatened or harassed ….’  and continued to state the complainants name.

“Needless to say the last six months have been far from pleasant and I have been highly frustrated at not being allowed to play my full part within the Labour Group. But this didn’t prevent me continuing with my work as a local councillor, for what is now coming up to 12 years, working for those residents who have put their trust and faith in me at the ballot box, as well as all others in the ward.

“I wish to make it clear that at no stage did I threaten the individual concerned or harass him. I called him a ‘twat’ and that was the limit of our misunderstanding. The NEC have rightly admonished me for that but added no punishment to the automatic suspension I have already suffered.

“A heartfelt thanks to those colleagues of mine who have supported me and kept in touch with me over the last six months and those residents who have done the same. It was heartening to know that they too had faith and trust in me.

“What’s done is done. There is a big job ahead of us with all sixty council seats being contested this coming May – and I intend to play my part in returning the Labour Party as the group with the majority of members in the Council Chamber. Which, I am happy to say, started today!”

Tony Short declined to comment even after he was made aware that the matter had been finalised. He has consistently refused to provide the date he made the complaint.

The Council and Oldham Labour Party Leader has also, once more, declined to provide a statement, again hiding behind ‘an investigation’, even after it had concluded. She has been made aware in plain terms, by this journalist, of the damage to the reputation of the Labour Party, and within her own caucus of right-thinking councillors, that such laziness and ineptitude brings.

Cllr Chadderton after being offered the courtesy of right of reply provided this statement:

“None of the decisions regarding this complaint have been taken at a local level, it has been handled throughout by the national Labour Party.

“I agree that the length of time taken to deal with this issue is less than ideal and has been frustrating for all parties.

“The Labour Party has yet to formally notify me that Cllr Shuttleworth’s administrative suspension has been lifted, but after a conversation with him this morning I understand that this is the case.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Graham back to the Labour Group, I know his ward colleague [Cllr Chris Goodwin] and residents of Chadderton South will be happy too.

“As Graham said, now the fight begins to return as many Labour Councillors as possible in May.”

Page last updated Monday 13th January, 2023 at 1355hrs

Thank you for reading and a polite request: If you wish to make a contribution to the running costs of this website it would be very much appreciated. Donations can made securely, via PayPal at this link.

Corrections: Please let me know if there is a mistake in this article. I will endeavour to correct it as soon as possible.

Picture credits: Labour Party

Right of reply: If you are mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let me have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory it will be added to the article.

© Neil Wilby 2015-2023. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: