MP's anger at fly-tipping accusation

AN ESSEX MP cleared of illegally fly-tipping rubbish has claimed he was the victim of a politically- motivated attack.

James Hore

AN ESSEX MP cleared of illegally fly-tipping rubbish has claimed he was the victim of a politically- motivated attack.

Douglas Carswell, the MP for Harwich, and his wife, Clementine, were hit with fixed penalty notices from Tendring District Council after black bin bags belonging to the couple were found at a Scout hut near their home.

The Tory MP and his wife were both ordered to pay £75 fines and were warned they faced prosecution if they refused.

But Mr Carswell objected, saying he believed there was “malicious intent” behind the episode in May and has used parliamentary records to prove he was in London speaking in a debate in the House of Commons.

It emerged yesterday that he and his wife have both been cleared by the council.

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The bags at the centre of the row contained personal items such as Mr Carswell's wedding list along with a letter from a constituent.

Mr Carswell told the EADT: “Tendring council has decided to drop the fixed penalty notices that they issued me with. I am pleased and relieved.

“From the moment that I first heard about the fixed penalty notices from a journalist, who had received a tip off, I formed the view that this whole episode was politically-motivated.

“I believe it was an attempted stitch-up. The story came straight out of the district council. And I know that EADT readers will draw whatever conclusions they want to from that.”

Mr Carswell, who was elected to the Harwich seat in 2005, added: “Giving officialdom unchecked powers to snoop and spy leads directly to this sort of nonsense.

“It used to be said that if you had nothing to hide from the authorities, you had nothing to fear.

“I now know that simply isn't the case.

“Luckily, I just happened to be able to produce Hansard records, which proved that I was in fact speaking in the House of Commons at the time Tendring council accused me of being out littering.”

Michael Talbot, Tendring portfolio holder for the environment, said there had been no “stitch-up” and said he was disappointed with the decision not to proceed with the case.

“It did appear to me, as portfolio holder, to be a case of fly-tipping. Whether it is our chief executive, head of legal services, or our local MP - if they have committed the offence, we will issue a fixed penalty notice.

“I have no idea what advice we have been given from the barristers is, but I suspect that the council has decided the safest thing was to say we would not proceed. I can't pretend I am happy about this.”

Nigel Brown, the council's communications manager, confirmed there would not be further action.

He said: “The two fixed penalty notices were issued in accordance with the council's policy and Mr Carswell and his wife were treated in exactly the same way as any other member of the public would have been in the circumstances.

“Mr Carswell had every right to challenge the notices - which he did - and after taking counsel's advice Tendring District Council has taken the decision not to proceed any further in this matter.”