Sheffield councillor involved in escorts business axed from committee

A Sheffield councillor linked to an escorts business has been removed from the council’s licensing committee after questions were raised about his involvement.

Councillor Neale Gibson, Labour representative of Walkley ward, manages the money for Escorts R Us through his own company Mowbray Accounting.

The business was set up in 2016 but coun Gibson’s involvement was undeclared until now.

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It was initially thought his involvement was about more than just money and as a result was taken off licensing duties and replaced by coun Andy Bainbridge, Labour representative for East Ecclesfield.

But following an investigation by Sheffield City Council, it was found coun Gibson was not guilty of wrongdoing.

Despite this, the council decided to stand by their decision to remove him.

A Labour representative said: “The initial legal advice was based on a description that councillor Gibson’s involvement was more than just his firm acting as accountant and that the company was engaged in a broader range of activities.

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“The decision around removal from the licensing committee was based on that advice.

“However these allegations proved to be completely unfounded and based on current information, there is no procedural requirement for councillor Gibson to stand aside. We continued with the decision to ensure that not only do we have complete impartiality but also the perception of complete impartiality during this period. This does not reflect on the professionalism of the councillor in question or any of their actions.”

It comes after a social media spat on Twitter in which coun Gibson, supported by fellow Labour councillor Sophie Wilson, accused the owner of the Harlequin Pub of being ‘transphobic’.

In one tweet coun Gibson said: “I read a number of retweets on your account that I think most people would have thought were transphobic. They now don’t appear on the timeline.”

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The pub owner, Liz Aspden, denied this and sent a letter of complaint to the council. In it she said: “When prominent councillors attack a local business with libellous allegations, they not only damage the business itself, they also impact the staff who work there and the community which the business is at the heart of.

“Furthermore, by weaponising the very real and horrible problem of transphobia by spreading false information, they are contributing to dissent within the trans community, giving the impression that they are happy to use transphobia falsely to undermine their opponents.”

Coun Gibson is yet to comment.