Mr. Dutton has been busy: writing a letter to the local newspaper extolling the virtues of the current cabinet of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. In recent weeks he has written letters which include the following:
I sincerely believe that under the good stewardship of financial portfolio holder James Scholes and leader Bob Atwood, we have the best possible hope for our town and borough. They deserve our full support, not denigration.
Thank goodness we have our good stewards Bob Atwood and James Scholes in charge of our local finances.
Now, can this be the same Mr. Dutton who features in the Standands for England report which cleared councillor Brian Ransley of all allegations that he failed to comply with the code of conduct?
4.25 In March 2011 Mr Dutton, a well-known local blogger, published defamatory allegations on his blog about Mr Titterrell’s case and the actions of individuals at the Council. He also wrote about the regeneration company and said that the police had received a complaint about Councillor Bullock. The Council instructed solicitors to send a letter before action given that Mr Dutton’s allegations included current officers and members.
4.26 Ms Marshall intervened on Mr Dutton’s behalf with the Council’s solicitors. She told them she was the source of the allegations and put herself forward as Mr Dutton’s representative. Ms Marshall then told the Council’s solicitors that Councillor Ransley, a cabinet member, had told her he did not approve of the Council’s taking steps against Mr Dutton, and that his fellow cabinet colleagues did not approve either. She said she had been asked to pass on Councillor Ransley’s mobile number. Ms Marshall said at interview that she had spoken to Councillor Ransley about the Council’s letter before action. She said that it was Mr Dutton who then asked her to give Councillor Ransley’s mobile number to the council’s solicitors.
4.27 Councillor Ransley said at interview that he had spoken to Ms Marshall about Mr Dutton, but not until after Mr Dutton himself had asked Councillor Ransley directly for his help. Mr Dutton is a frequent correspondent with Councillor Ransley and many other councillors. Councillor Ransley thought Mr Dutton was a fool regarding the comments he had made on his blog, but that he was not getting a very good deal from the Council with regards to the threat of legal action. Councillor Ransley telephoned the Council’s solicitors, but they referred his call to Mr Cummins, who then advised Councillor Ransley not to involve himself further. In due course Mr Dutton gave a written retraction and apology to the Council.