Councillor arrested over web comments

Geoff Lilley
Geoff Lilley

A COUNCILLOR was arrested after comments were posted on an internet forum.

Hartlepool councillor Geoff Lilley spent eight hours in custody at Hartlepool Police Station and was grilled about remarks said to have been posted online about Labour councillor Marjorie James.

Independent councillor Lilley, who represents Greatham on Hartlepool Borough Council, is alleged to have posted offensive comments about Owton ward councillor James on a community internet forum, as reported on the Mail’s website on Saturday.

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “A 60-year-old man from Hartlepool has been arrested on suspicion of an offence under the Malicious Communications Act and has been released on bail pending further inquiries.

“Inquiries are ongoing.”

The Malicious Communications Act 1988 makes it illegal in England and Wales to send or deliver letters or other articles for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety.

Coun Lilley, 60, said: “I’m very, very happy to help police with their inquiries.

“I have complete faith in the system and I have sought legal advice.”

The grandfather-of-five said he had been to a council planning committee meeting on Friday morning when his wife, Fens ward councillor Alison Lilley, left him a message on his phone saying the police wanted to speak to him.

He went to the police station at around 2pm where he was arrested and questioned before being released at around 10pm.

The councillor said he spent around four hours in a cell and had his fingerprints and police mugshot taken.

He was searched before being questioned about the alleged offence.

He said he was at Hartlepool Police Station, in Avenue Road, for eight hours in total.

He has been bailed to appear back at the police station on April 24.

Coun James said she did not wish to comment, saying it was part of a police inquiry.