Home » Council Meeting Descends Into Chaos After Police Accuse Councillor Of ‘breaching The Peace’

Council Meeting Descends Into Chaos After Police Accuse Councillor Of ‘breaching The Peace’

A council meeting in Essex descended into chaos last night after a ‘bullying’ councillor with a megaphone refused to leave and police were called amid claims of disruptive behaviour.

Maldon District Council was discussing sanctions against Chrisy Morris, an independent councillor for Heybridge West who is accused of disclosing confidential information and denies the allegations, in a livestream on Thursday evening when mayhem ensued.

Officers from Essex Police accused Cllr Morris of ‘breaching the peace’ after he used a megaphone to interrupt other councillors and shout ‘point of order’ over them.

The outspoken official can be seen turning on his phone camera to record the incident as the officers approach him, before insisting they identify themselves. Some councillors could be heard cheering as the officers arrived. Essex Police said no arrests were made.

MailOnline has approached the force for further information.

Maldon District Council was discussing sanctions against Chrisy Morris, an independent councillor for Heybridge West who is accused of disclosing confidential information and denies the allegations, in a livestream on Thursday evening when mayhem ensued

Outspoken councillor Morris can be seen turning on his phone camera to record the incident as the officers approach him, before insisting they identify themselves

A council meeting in Essex descended into chaos last night after a ‘bullying’ councillor with a megaphone refused to leave and police were called amid claims of disruptive behaviour

What was the row at Maldon District Council all about?

Maldon District Council was discussing sanctions against Chrisy Morris, an independent councillor for Heybridge West accused of disclosing confidential information, when mayhem ensued.

Councillors voted to remove Cllr Morris from the meeting, but he refused to leave. They also voted to ban him from appearing on any committees or working groups until May 2023.

The agenda included sanctions against Cllr Morris after the council’s joint standards committee found he had brought the authority into disrepute, following two independent investigations.

The minutes say he disclosed confidential information and on several occasions his ‘conduct met the definition of bullying’. Mr Morris disputed these findings during the meeting.

After only half an hour, councillors walked out and closed the meeting early in protest of Cllr Morris’ behaviour.

Cllr Morris goes on to insist that he has not committed any crime as he is ‘democratically elected and allowed to speak’. When told by an officer that he is ‘breaching the peace,’ he states: ‘No I’m not’.

Councillors voted to remove Cllr Morris from the meeting, but he refused to leave. They also voted to ban him from appearing on any committees or working groups until May 2023.

The agenda included sanctions against Cllr Morris after the council’s joint standards committee found he had brought the authority into disrepute, following two independent investigations.

The minutes say he disclosed confidential information and on several occasions his ‘conduct met the definition of bullying’. Mr Morris disputed these findings during the meeting.

After only half an hour, councillors walked out and closed the meeting early in protest of Cllr Morris’ behaviour.

Cllr Morris thundered: ‘I have every right to speak here, I’ve been elected. I’ve been elected. This is democracy. You might not like me but you’ve got to listen to me.’

Council Chair Mark Heard asked officers to leave after chaos broke out, telling the meeting: ‘We are at the situation that I have to look at the duty of care that this council has towards those members of the staff.’

He then said: ‘I have to say, Cllr Morris, you are living in a world of insults, allegations and conflict. The standards committee found you to be a liar and a bully and you are demonstrating that now.’

Cllr Morris has previously been investigated by the standards committee for ‘aggressive’ behaviour, but was cleared of breaching the code of conduct, according to The Maldon and Burnham Standard.

Maldon District Council was discussing sanctions against Chrisy Morris, an independent councillor for Heybridge West who denies disclosing confidential information, when mayhem ensued

And remember THIS lot?

This isn’t the first time council meetings have descended into chaos.

A video recording of the December Handforth Parish Council meeting gained more than six million views after being published on Twitter in February.

The meeting also made the stand-in clerk Jackie Weaver a household name when then-chairman Brian Tolver’s remark she had ‘no authority here’ became a meme.

Jackie Weaver during the infamous parish council Zoom meeting

The meeting on December 10 is attended by several other councillors (clockwise from top left: Susan Moore, Barry Burkill who is also thrown out, John Smith who takes over as chairman, and Cynthia Samson)

The now-famous Ms Weaver is no longer acting as clerk but is expected to be switching on the town’s Christmas lights on November 27.

New chairman John Smith said the council had been renamed Handforth Town Council because they wanted to ‘move away from the toxic side of Handforth’.

Since the meeting, two councillors have resigned while Mr Tolver has relinquished his chairman duties, but remains a councillor.

Mr Smith said: ‘We have a new name and three new councillors and along with the other remaining councillors are committed to improving Handforth.

‘We are also moving away from the viral, toxic Handforth Parish Council as portrayed on YouTube and are leaving it behind.’

He also explained how the move was down to feeling among councillors that Handforth residents would identify more with a secular-sounding name as opposed to the religious connotations of ‘parish’.

He said: ‘Many residents have understandably believed that Handforth Parish Council is in some way attached to the church. For those of a certain age, the Vicar of Dibley comes to mind.’

The meeting started with a minute’s silence, during which Cllr Morris can be heard to say ‘it should be upstanding, one minute’s silence upstanding.’

Afterwards, he started to persistently shout ‘point of order’ over the chair.

The council were due to debate items on the district’s local development plan, approving One Maldon District and setting a new council tax base.

But none of these could be discussed or voted on because of the disruption, and the meeting went into private session in a bid to solve the issue.

After the meeting was brought back into session, Cllr Morris still refused to leave. Cllr Heard then asked councillors to rise and walk out in protest before closing the meeting.

In an interview with BBC Essex this morning, Mr Morris said: ‘What I said I needed to say. It was very simple, I had a point of order which the chairman should deal with as soon as it’s brought to his attention.

‘They wouldn’t allow my point of order, which was undemocratic in itself.

‘I’m a democratically elected representative. I’ve got the right to speak. I’m there to speak and I simply have not been allowed to speak.’

Wendy Stamp, Maldon District Council’s leader, said: ‘Enough is enough. The public may be seeing councillor Morris’s disruptive behaviour for the first time at last night’s council meeting.

‘However, this has been a regular occurrence and we cannot tolerate this type of behaviour any longer and put Members and Staff through any further distress.

‘Our focus as a Council is to provide services to residents and to act as the democratic voice.

‘The attacking and disruptive behaviour of Chrisy Morris cements the outcomes of two independent investigations into his behaviour.

‘Despite the alarming findings in these investigations, councillor Morris has continued to breach the Council’s code of conduct.

‘The first item of business last night was to agree the findings in this report and the sanctions it sets out. His actions clearly disrupted debate on the sanctions from taking place.

‘His repeated disruptive calls for a Point of Order were not accepted by the chairman, as Mr Morris did not state which procedure rule his Point of Order referred to, despite being urged to by many of the council’s members.

‘The chairman repeatedly asked Mr Morris to desist his behaviour and having no other option, he followed due process in asking Members to vote that ‘the Member be no longer heard’ and this was supported by all Members without dissension.

‘Council chairman Mark Heard said he was concerned for the duty of care of staff present.

‘As the disruption continued, the Police were asked to attend as councillor Morris was preventing the democratic business of council.

‘It’s important to state that his repeated allegations of corruption are completely unsubstantiated. Councillor Morris has not provided any evidence, nor are we aware he has reported these allegations to the Police.

‘Any further comment at this time may prejudice any further investigations that take place.

‘It is disappointing what took place last night prevented important areas of work the Council would have debated, including the Local Development Plan, Langford and Ulting Neighbourhood Plan, and an exciting partnership to support community health, safety and wellbeing.’