Maldon District Council meeting disrupted and police called

A council meeting was abandoned after police officers were called amid claims of disruptive behaviour.

Maldon District Council in Essex was discussing sanctions against member Chrisy Morris, who denies disclosing confidential information.

Police officers said he was “breaching the peace” after he used a megaphone and repeatedly interjected on Thursday evening.

Essex Police said no arrests were made.

There were scenes reminiscent of an infamous Handforth Parish Council meeting as Maldon council met on Thursday evening.

Jackie Weaver, who stood in as clerk at the Handforth meeting, told BBC Essex Mr Morris’s behaviour was “not appropriate”.

Image source, Facebook/Chrisy Morris

The agenda included sanctions against independent councillor Mr Morris after the council’s joint standards committee found he had brought the authority into disrepute, following two independent investigations.

The minutes say he disclosed confidential information and on several occasions his “conduct met the definition of bullying”.

Mr Morris disputed these findings during the meeting.

As a sanction, councillors voted unanimously to remove him from all committees, working groups or outside bodies until May 2023.

Mr Morris repeatedly interjected over council chairman Mark Heard, and 10 minutes into the meeting, councillors tried to vote to remove him.

He shouted: “You can’t make me, you idiots! You can’t make me leave the meeting – I’m democratically elected!”

During proceedings, he called Mr Heard as a “coward” and said: “At least I have got the testicular fortitude to sit here and speak my truth.”

When told to be quiet, he repeatedly said that he “will be heard”.

And when Mr Heard told Mr Morris he had “no right to speak here” he responded that he had “every right” to.

“This is democracy – you might not like me but you’ve got to listen to me,” he said.

Image source, Facebook/Chrisy Morris

When police officers arrived they tried to persuade him to leave, with one telling him: “You are breaching the peace by not allowing this [meeting] to continue.”

Mr Morris told them: “You guys shouldn’t be getting involved in politics.”

As the meeting was adjourned for five minutes, Mr Heard told one officer that Mr Morris “has no right to be here” and that he should leave.

Mr Morris responded that he was entitled to be there.

When the meeting reconvened, he started interjecting again, calling for a point of order.

The chairman asked council members to rise and walk out in protest, ending the meeting with several items still to be discussed and voted on.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Morris told the BBC he had no regrets.

“What I said I needed to say; it was very simple, I had a point of order which the chairman should deal with as soon as it’s brought to his attention,” he said.

“They wouldn’t allow [my point of order], which was undemocratic in itself.

“I’m a democratically elected representative. I’ve got the right to speak. I’m there to speak and I simply have not been allowed to speak.”

Image source, Simon Dedman/BBC

He added that people should watch Prime Minister’s Questions more often because “it gets a lot worse than that at Westminster”.

Mr Heard told the BBC that as there was an active police investigation, he was unable to comment.

Image source, John Fairhall / BBC

Ms Weaver, who achieved fame after clips from the Handforth meeting notched up millions of views online, was critical of Mr Morris’s conduct.

“If we’re saying we’re not as bad as PMQs so that makes it OK, then if those are the standards that we’re going to run local government by in the future, we really do have problems,” she said.

She added that such behaviour “does have a really strong impact on other people”.

“It causes both members and officers incredible stress when something like this happens,” she said.

Essex Police said it had been called to reports of a disturbance at the council offices at about 19:30 GMT.

The force said officers spoke with those present and no arrests were made.

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