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Councillor steps down from senior post to ‘focus on clearing his name’ of sexual harassment allegations

PUBLISHED: 15:39 11 November 2016

Cllr Tony Searles

Cllr Tony Searles

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Tony Searles denies the allegation

A district and town councillor has left his post as portfolio holder for finance amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Last week Sevenoaks and Swanley councillor Tony Searles was removed as the whip of Swanley Town Council’s Tory party.

It followed an allegation of sexual harassment which he has vehemently denied.

Earlier this year the Tory councillor for Swanley Christchurch and Swanley Village stepped down from his role as deputy mayor at the town council.

We understand the Cllr Searles is no longer the portfolio holder for finance at Sevenoaks District Council.

Cllr Searles said: “I wish to take time to focus on clearing my name from the allegations that have been made against me.

“I was not sacked and will not be resigning as a councillor and continue to deny all allegations.

“These allegations are all part of a wider smear campaign of victimisation, bullying and vendettas, I will continue my good work for the people of Swanley.”

Peter Fleming, leader of Sevenoaks District Council, said: “Cllr Searles tendered his resignation from the position of Finance Portfolio holder within the Sevenoaks District Council Cabinet on Sunday, which I accepted. He felt the situation that he finds himself in at Swanley Town Council has now begun to impact on Sevenoaks District Council and he was concerned that it will become a distraction from what we have and are achieving.

“I would stress that Sevenoaks District Council has not received any complaints against Cllr Searles, either from an individual or Swanley Town Council.

“All the allegations are in regard to his position at Swanley Town Council and do not relate to and are quite separate from his role as a District Councillor. I cannot speak on behalf of another council, or to the actions they have chosen to take, as these are clearly matters solely for them.”

Last week, leader at Swanley Town Council, Victor Southern, said: “The Conservative Councillors Group of Swanley Town Council met on October 26 and voted unanimously to withdraw the whip from Cllr Tony Searles.

“The decision was made mainly on the effect that certain allegations made against him had on the council as to cost and efficiency of administration.”

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