Tory councillor left in tears

A Long-serving Tory councillor said she felt 'bullied and intimidated' in a Conservative Party interview before being stripped of the chance to stand at next year's local elections - with no reason given.

Wednesday, 20th September 2017, 11:23 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th September 2017, 11:25 am
Rachel Procter. (S)

Coun Rachel Procter broke down in tears in the face of “aggressive attack style” questioning during an Elmet and Rothwell Conservatives Association selection interview in March.

The mother-of-two has been a Conservative councillor for Harewood for 13 years and won a majority of more than 5,000 votes at the May 2015 local elections. Coun Procter appealed against her deselection and a hearing was held last month.

The appeal failed and Coun Procter, who is married to Leeds Conservative group deputy leader Coun John Procter (Cons/Wetherby), will not be on list of candidates put through to the second stage of the selection process - the membership vote.

Coun Procter, 46, who works as an operations director of a facilities management company, said: “I felt I was bullied and intimidated. This not dirty politics it is toxic.

“I knew they were trying to get rid of me before I walked in the room.

“I cannot believe there is no formal Conservative Party investigation about what is going on in this constituency.

“It was aggressive attack style questioning. I broke down in tears, that’s how bad it was.

“In have been cross-examined in public inquiries and I have spoken in front of plans panels and yet there I was reduced to tears.

“I’m a strong lady. I think it was the questioning, the style and the approach. And I think it was the shock.

“One question I was asked was Do I spend enough time with my family?’ I was speechless. I replied that like every working woman we manage our time effectively.”

She added: “I employ a large number of people within the company I work for. If I treated my staff like that I would be in a tribunal every day of the week. “I cannot believe 13 years of service was brushed aside in a 20 minute interview and I did not have the opportunity to go forward to the members with a track record of success and achieving things.”

A spokesman for Elmet and Rothwell Conservative Association, said: “We do not comment on internal party matters.”

Councillors Ryan Stephenson and Matthew Robinson (Con, Harewood) received the backing of Conservative Party members at a meeting in East Keswick last week. The meeting also selected Mr Samuel Firth to stand alongside Councillors Stephenson and Robinson on the ballot paper next May.

The Leader of Leeds Conservative Group said he is “annoyed and angry” following Coun Rachael Procter’s deselection.

Coun Andrew Carter supported Coun Procter at her appeal hearing in August and has raised his concerns with Conservative Party chairman Patrick McLoughlin.

Coun Carter said: “Rachael has every right to be upset. She has the 100 per cent backing of the Conservative Group councillors on the city council.”

Coun Carter said he has “absolutely no idea” why Coun Procter has been deselected.

He said: “We have sought advice from every quarter in the Conservative Party and it appears there is a process and if that process is correctly followed they don’t have to give a reason and I find it incredible.

“There was no reason given and apparently we can’t even question that.”

He added: “I think any sitting councillor has the right to expect the membership of the ward or constituency to decide and she has been denied that right.”