Cheshire East Council

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Councillor jailed after sending threatening email to MP and chief executive

An Allerdale councillor has been sentenced to six weeks in prison after pleading guilty to sending a threatening email to his local MP and the borough council's chief executive.

The MP for Workington, Mark Jenkinson, who received the email, welcomed the court's decision as a "defence of both individuals and democracy".

Workington Magistrates' Court sentenced Peter Little for breaching section 127(1)(a) and (3) of the Communications Act 2003, which says a person is guilty of an offence if they send a message that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.

According to a BBC report, Mr Little used a sexual swear word to suggest Andrew Seekings, Allerdale's Chief Executive, and Mr Jenkinson would come to harm.

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Upon handing down the sentence yesterday (19 October 2021), District Judge Mark Hadfield mentioned the serious nature of threatening MPs and referred to the recent "tragic" events surrounding the death of MP Sir David Amess.

"If you were of good character I would consider a community order," Judge Hadfield added.

But Mr Little's case was aggravated by his record for "disorder and violence" and "more particularly by the fact that it was committed whilst subject to a suspended sentence recently imposed for threats to neighbours and your appalling behaviours towards officers that day," according to the judge.

Mr Little had earlier received a 12-week suspended prison sentence for separate threatening behaviour aimed at two police officers in August.

In that case, he pled guilty to breaching the Public Order Act 1986.

Mark Jenkinson, MP for Workington, said: "Abuse and threats from a tiny, but often loud, minority is sadly part and parcel of political life today. This needs to change."

Mr Jenkinson added that "Andrew Seekings, as the Chief Executive of Allerdale Borough Council, has not chosen that political life. He is a paid officer undertaking an often difficult role diligently, efficiently, and with good grace."

Mr Little took office in May 2019 and was a member of the Allerdale Independents. The Independents removed him from its ranks following the sentencing.

A spokesperson for Allerdale Borough Council stated yesterday that Mr Little’s tenure at the local authority had ended as a result of his conviction.

The spokesperson said: “Peter Little yesterday received a custodial prison sentence of 6 weeks to run consecutively with an existing suspended sentence of 12 weeks. We have had confirmation that he is now therefore serving an 18 week sentence.

“This means that under S80 of the Local Government Act 1972, Peter is automatically disqualified as a councillor with immediate effect.”

Adam Carey

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