Councillor '˜belly bounced' Doncaster town's Mayor in row about her mum

A councillor in Doncaster pushed the town's Mayor against a wall and '˜belly-bounced' her during a row about her mother, a hearing was told.

Tuesday, 14th June 2016, 6:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th June 2016, 6:18 pm

Coun Michael Hennessey is facing disciplinary action after he reportedly physically assaulted fellow Thorne Moorends town councillor and Mayor Susan Durant before a public meeting last year.

The row began when Coun Hennessey began shouting at Coun Durant’s mother, Anne Farrand, a committee hearing into his conduct heard yesterday.

In evidence read out by Doncaster Council legal officer Helen Potts, Coun Durant, who was elected as Thorne and Moorends Mayor last month, said Coun Hennessey had told her mother that she had no right to be in the room prior to the meeting starting and threatened to physically remove her.

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As Mayor Durant tried to pass Coun Hennessey to reach her mother, he is alleged to have ‘grabbed’ both of Mayor Durant’s forearms and pushed her against the wall.

Coun Hennessey is also alleged to have used the physical force of his body to ‘belly bounce’ Mayor Durant when she attempted to wriggle free from his grasp.

He reportedly locked the door when Mayor Durant called the police.

The incident, at the Assembly Rooms in Fieldside in December last year, was reported to South Yorkshire Police.

The hearing was told Coun Hennessey was also accused of removing items from a café owned by Thorne Moorends Council without permission.

He allegedly returned them to the café’s tenant, Sharon Foster, in a loud and abusive manner that caused upset and embarrassment to her.

After an investigation was launched by Ms Potts, several attempts were made to contact Coun Hennessey for a statement.

Ms Potts told the meeting that Coun Hennessey initially insisted his police statement should be used as evidence, before he eventually submitted a statement when he was told the police evidence could not be obtained in time for the hearing.

Ms Potts said the evidence provided for the investigation supported both of the allegations made against Coun Hennessey.

She said she found Coun Hennessey had broken three aspects of the councillor’s code of conduct in that he had behaved in such a way that a reasonable person would regard as disrespectful; that he had acted in a way which a reasonable person would regard as bullying or intimidatory; and that he had not used the resources of the council in accordance with its requirements.

Following Ms Potts’ findings, Coun Hennessey told the meeting he refuted all of the allegations made against him.

After a period of deliberation yesterday, the committee panel issued a number of recommendations to Thorne Moorends Town Council for disciplinary action it believes should be taken against Coun Hennessey.

The panel has recommended that Coun Hennessey should be removed from all committees and sub-committees for 12 months; banned from all council buildings with the exception of meeting rooms; banned from the use of all council equipment for a year; and given training on the code of conduct for councillors and on the use of social media.