Pimpin’ ain’t easy!

Just when you get to thinking that maybe your own party had cornered the market on career-ending stupidity, along comes a cheering reminder that when a Tory decides to fuck up their political career then boy do they do it in style…

Tory in woman sex sale attempt

A West Bromwich councillor has admitted trying to sell a woman for sex.

Councillor Alan Burkitt, Tory member for the Charlemont ward, has been suspended by his party following his arrest on Sunday.

He was kept in custody overnight at West Bromwich police station and released on bail Monday afternoon pending further inquiries.

Councillor Burkitt, former deputy leader of the Tory group on Sandwell Council, told the Express & Star that the matter concerned only one woman and claimed that she was consenting.

He said: “I realise what I did was still illegal but it was consented to. She is denying it. She’s saying I made her do it. I do not accept that and shall be vehemently defending myself.”

Councillor Karen Bissell, Tory group leader, said he was suspended with immediate effect.

Councillor Burkitt was elected as a Liberal Democrat in 1996. Within three years he had defected to the Tories.

In 2002 it was revealed he owed more than £1,000 in rent and council tax on his flat in Beaconview Road, where he was arrested.

The 47-year-old former housing adviser has been unemployed for about three years.

What I particularly like about this story is that it contains what has to be one of least effective exculpatory statement in history:

“I realise what I did was still illegal but it was consented to. She is denying it. She’s saying I made her do it. I do not accept that and shall be vehemently defending myself.”

Sorry?

So if she consented to being sold for sex its, what, not quite so bad?

Well that’s alright then isn’t it?

Apropos of recent debates about the Standards Board, am I right in thinking that councillors are under a public duty to report acts of misconduct, such as bringing your office into disrepute? So will that be 71 separate complaints from Sandwell councillors or just the one, with 71 signatures?

BTW – it’s International Women’s Day, today – just thought I’d mention that for Councillor Burkitt’s benefit.

  • I’m sure you weren’t being serious when you mentioned using the Standards Board, but I for one will not be complaining. It’s for either Burkitt’s electorate to get rid of him, or the police if they have sufficient evidence to convict him, not the so-called Standards Board. Unless Burkitt was trying to sell the good woman on council headed notepaper, or by using his office as a councillor to attract customers for her, I don’t consider he was acting as a councillor when he allegedly did what he is accused of. I appreciate that sometimes people lose their jobs if there behaviour outside work would embarass their employer, but I’m not keen on that either. As I say… I’m sure you were only joking. I did toy with the notion of referring to this story, but it is a bit sad really. It is the sought of thing that could result in someone taking their own life, and that would just compound the tragedy.

  • Unity

    Yes, I am being facetious about the Standards Board, although I think I am right in saying that, strictly speaking, you and other Sandwell members are technically under an obligation to submit a complaint in matters like this, which is one of the nastier elements of the whole process.

    As far as Burkitt’s situation is concerned, I would agree that the idea that what he appears to have done, by his own admission, should result in sanctions out of some nominal idea that he has somehow ’embarrassed’ the council or brought it into disrepute is a non-starter – it’s not as if this really reflects on the Council as an entity.

    Having said that and given both the nature of the offence and the statement made to the Express and Star, which does suggest that his ‘defence’ in this matter may amount no more than to pleading guilty to a lesser charge while trying to avoid a more serious one, it does seem to me that this could, and probably will, affect his ability to discharge his duties as a Councillor. I cannot imagine that many of the constitutents, particularly female constituents, are going to be keen to approach him for help in casework matters after this, nor would I suspect that this has gone down a bundle with many council employees.

    A few years ago I was called in as an outside investigator by a voluntary organisation who suspected that an employee had been downloading pornographic images using on of the organisation’s computers, an investigation which unconvered an extensive stash of hardcore material some which was fairly disturbing stuff- although fortunately the employee’s personal tastes ran only as far as adults, which kept the matter of out the hand of the Police. One thing I clearly remember was that as other employees became aware of what had gone on and why this employee had been suspended and investigated – as you’ll know, you can never keep this kind of thing off the staff grapevine – it was clearly apparent that this whole business had made the female employees extremely uncomfortable.

    In the end, the organisation received the guy’s resignation on the morning that he was due to attend a disciplinary hearing, which would have been an open and shut matter in any case as I was able to establish clearly that he was responsible for the large quantity of porn (more than 3,000 images) that had been found on the computer.

    To some extent I see Burkitt’s position as being rather similar to that of this employee – while his admitted conduct is essentially a private matter, the nature of the offence in question does affect his capacity to carry out his duties, in which case it would seem to me that he is under a moral and ethical obligation to resign as a member and allow his consitutents to decide his fate at a by-election, should he decide to stand.

    That seems to me to be the only right, and honourable, way of resolving this matter satisfactorily.

    You are right, the Standards Board is not the way to deal with things like this – Burkitt should first be given the chance to do the honourable thing and if he declines that option, then the right course of action would be a motion of censure calling for his resignation to be put to full Council – that, at least, has the virture of being a democratic means of other members expressing their displeasure at his conduct.

  • Agreed. Interestingly, I hope the person you were called into ‘investigate’ had consented (in writing) to the employer examining his computer transactions, otherwise, thanks to one of our Labour Government’s more enlightened pieces of legislation (RIPA as amended by the LBP Act) it would have meant that the organisation and yourself would be in breach of the law (criminal, not civil). I represented a person who had downloaded images (of all things, Star Wars and other toys – he was a collector) and the Local Authority had illegally accessed his computer because he had not signed agreeing to be monitored. He came out of it without a disciplinary sanction and a generous financial settlement. Not all of this seemingly authoritarian legislation is aimed at persecuting people.

  • Unity

    Actually this was pre-RIPA/LBP and the case was based on images he’d – stupidly – actually stored on the computer in a folder with his name on it, not on the downloading of the images themselves, and so outside of LBP anyway as there was no interception or direct monitoring involved.

    He had the images, they were his and he had to go.

    Put it this way, from what I remember he was in a union and sought their advice before resigning and was told, honestly, that he was completely screwed as long as the hearing ran to process, which was never going to be in doubt as I was most particular about advising the organisation to play everything by the book as this was a clear case of gross misconduct in which summary dismissal was the likely outcome.

  • Seems to prove an adage I heard the other day – Tories get involved with sex scandals, and Labour gets involved with financial scandals…

    Jonah

  • Yes, perhaps you are right Jonah. Why, Tessa Jowell gets slagged up the hills and down the dales for a finacial scandal that no-one has been able to pin on her, and Dame Shirley Porter gets into a tangle over

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  • JOHN LENNON

    LABOUR COUNCILLERS AINT MUCH BETTER