Tendring: Email hacking dispute

A ROW over alleged email hacking at Tendring District Council continued last night despite an internal investigation finding no evidence to support the claims.

Conservative leader Neil Stock had accused someone acting on behalf of the Labour group of illegally accessing Tory councillors’ emails.

The allegation, made during a council meeting, followed a leaked email from Nick Turner, TDC’s Tory environment boss, which said �3million sea defence funding in Holland-on-Sea should be axed if his Conservative party did not win a by-election in the town.

Mr Stock said the comments about the sea defence funding were not supposed to have been taken seriously and asked TDC’s chief executive, Ian Davidson, to investigate how the message became public.

The email stated: “Just returned from a leafletting for Linda. Thought you would like to see the leaflet. It is one of the best I have seen us produce both for quality and content. If this does not earn us the seat. Then Peter save the �3 million for sea defences and let the Devil take the hindmost!”

Yesterday, it was confirmed an internal investigation carried out by the council’s Internal Audit Manager found no evidence to support any hacking claims.

Deputy Labour leader, Garry Calver, said: “The Labour Group is pleased that the chief executive accepts the need for a transparent investigation resulting from the very serious allegations made by Mr Stock during the council meeting.

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“We knew that the Labour Group had played no part in any hacking of Conservative Group emails but it now appears that there is no evidence to suggest any such hacking occurred.

“TDC’s investigation must now surely focus on why Mr Stock made the allegation and how the email came into the public domain. This matter is far from over and we call on Mr Stock to cooperate fully with any on going inquiry.”

But Mr Stock has defended his comments and called for the Labour group to reveal how the email came into their hands.

He said: “The email somehow fell into the Labour groups hands and they have been secretive about how they got hold of it.

“I was asked a question about it at council and I said based on the information, I had to assume it was obtained by the hacking of emails. If they are confident it was not hacked then they should be able to counter that with an explanation. So far they have been very defensive which makes me more suspicious.”

The email was sent to 32 Conservative councillors. Two were sent to TDC email addresses and the remaining were sent to private addresses.

Mr Stock criticised the Labour group for publishing the personal email addresses of councillors which he said breached the Data Protection Act.

“This was a private email sent to councillors which isn’t the smoking gun they want it to be,” he said.

“There are far more important things going on in the district. This is tit for tat which gives politics a bad name.”

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