Video: Disgraced politician Brian Coleman urged to resign over assault of mum-of-two
- Credit: Polly Hancock
Calls have been made for one of London’s most controversial politicians to exit public life once and for all after he was convicted of assault.
Ex-London Assembly chairman Brian Coleman’s admission at Uxbridge Magistrates Court that he attacked cafe owner and mum-of-two Helen Michael came exactly a year to the day after he lost his London Assembly seat to Labour’s Andrew Dismore.
Now the 51-year-old – who held the Camden and Barnet assembly seat for 12 years until 2012 – is facing demands led by his victim to leave his last political role as a councillor in Barnet following his guilty plea to assault on Friday (May 3).
But senior Tories appear to have erected a wall of silence since the court hearing – with the Ham&High unable to get a reaction from the leader of Barnet council and both of the borough’s MPs.
Ms Michael, 50, who runs Cafe Buzz in the High Road, North Finchley – a few metres from where the assault took place on September 20 last year – said: “I think he’s finished. I think he should definitely step down or he should be booted out of the council.
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“It’s clear that he attacked me and was quite ferocious. He should not be in public office.”
Shocking CCTV footage of the attack was played in court before Cllr Coleman was handed a bill of more than £1,000 in fines and costs.
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Audrey Poppy, who contested the Barnet and Camden assembly seat in 2012 for the Green Party, said: “I don’t think it’s worthy of the people of Barnet to have a man with a violent criminal conviction against him representing them.”
A team of five influential bloggers in Barnet are also demanding his exit, writing in an open letter: “Cllr Coleman has shown himself to be unfit for public office.”
The 51-year-old, who has remained silent since his conviction, was suspended from the Conservative Party after he was charged in October and is now likely to be expelled.
He cannot be forced out of Barnet Council altogether as only a prison sentence of three months or more leads to someone being disqualified as a councillor. The next local elections will be held in 2014.
Cllr Coleman’s London Assembly successor, Mr Dismore, did not join the calls for his resignation.
“Brian needs to take stock, but I don’t see him stepping down,” he said. “That’s not in his character.
“It’s a very unfortunate incident and it’s obviously a serious blot on his record, but I don’t think we have heard the last of him.”
The Conservative MPs for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer, and for Chipping Barnet, Theresa Villiers, did not wish to comment, while the leader of Barnet Council, Cllr Richard Cornelius, was on holiday and unavailable for comment.
Barnet’s deputy leader Cllr Daniel Thomas said the Conservative Party would meet soon “to conclude the issue of Cllr Coleman’s membership”.
He added: “The Conservative Party deems conviction of assault as an extremely serious matter”.
Prior to Cllr Coleman’s criminal conviction, he was twice reprimanded by Barnet’s standards committee for breaching the council’s code of conduct, in both cases in relation to sending abusive emails.