Brian Coleman has been in the news quite a lot recently. Let me tell you about a most interesting incident last night.
I was having a quiet drink with my wife, when Brian Coleman noticed us. He came down and sat with us and started engaging me in friendly conversation. He took time to show me his new Italian shoes and then stated that it was necessary for him to remain in his job because none of the rest of the Tories were up to the job. I was just about to ask him how he could possibly justify the incident with Helen Michael, when the alarm clock went off and I woke up.
I have spoken to six Conservative councillors in the since Thursday. All of them are people who I am on friendly terms with. All bar one were appalled by what has happened. As to the general populace of Barnet, the reaction has been even stronger. I have had emails from people who support Mr Coleman, but those were few and far between.
The Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius today announced that no action would be taken against Mr Coleman. The Hendon Times reports it here
Mr Cornelius has given the opposition a gift. It is clear that he does not care about the image of Barnet Council or the fact that the reputation of the Barnet Conservative party is being dragged through the mud. Mr Cornelius clearly doesn't understand what "Innocent until proven guilty" means. If a murder is committed or a teacher at a Barnet school was accused of a crime against a child, the accused party would be suspended until such time as the case came to court and the facts established. We should not presume guilt, but we should most certainly take action to ensure that until such time as the facts have been established, the person who has been accused is taken out of the spotlight.
It is in no way saying Mr Coleman is guilty, to ask him to stand aside for the duration of the investigation. If he is cleared, then he can hold his head high. There is a precedent in Barnet Council. Last year, Councillor John Hart was accused of making a racist comment at a Hendon and District Area forum. Mr Hart was immediately removed from post. The standards committee later exhonourated Mr Hart. It seems extremely odd to me that Mr Hart was removed, whilst Mr Coleman is left in place.
As someone who writes a blog and would like to see the Conservatives voted out in 2014, Mr Cornelius has done me a big favour. Thank you Richard. I do wonder whether his Conservative colleagues will be quite so keen on his lack of leadership in relation to his out of control friend.