'Dame Shirley achieved a lot' says Marylebone councillor
Sanchez Manning A MARYLEBONE councillor has defended notorious former Westminster Council leader Shirley Porter – shortly after she was denounced by her successor Colin Barrow. Cllr Harvey Marshall branded BBC Radio 4 production Shirleymander – a critical
A MARYLEBONE councillor has defended notorious former Westminster Council leader Shirley Porter - shortly after she was denounced by her successor Colin Barrow.
Cllr Harvey Marshall branded BBC Radio 4 production Shirleymander - a critical dramatisation of Dame Shirley's time in office - as "slanted" and "incorrect".
The play depicted the events leading to the Tesco heiress's fall from grace.
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Dame Shirley was forced to quit as council leader in the early 1990s after becoming embroiled in the now famed Homes For Votes scandal.
In 1996, a legal investigation found the Tory councillor guilty of illegally moving Labour-voting council tenants into asbestos-ridden flats to free up their homes for Conservative voters.
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After Shirleymander was aired last month, council leader Colin Barrow publicly apologised for Dame Shirley's actions and said he wanted to bury the 79-year-old's legacy once and for all.
But Cllr Marshall has stepped in to defend his former boss.
"I thought it was a terrible reflection on what happened," he said.
"I thought the way she was portrayed was incorrect and failed to reflect the work she did in Westminster.
"I knew her quite well and I had a great deal of respect for her."
Cllr Marshall says Shirleymander was merely a vehicle for Today programme reporter Andrew Hosken to sell more copies of his book Nothing Like A Dame.
He also criticised the production for making no mention of Westminster councillor Dr Mikael Dutt.
Cllr Marshall said took his own life after being "hounded" by the district auditors investigating the gerrymandering allegations.
"Shirley Porter actually did a lot of good for the council - she took us into the real world and made us the number one council in the country," said Cllr Marshall.
A BBC Radio 4 spokesman said: "In addition to the book by Andrew Hosken, several other sources were used for the play, including the District Auditor's report and numerous newspaper cuttings.
"Based on the well-documented Homes For Votes scandal, Shirleymander was a comedy drama about hubris and political manipulation - it was not a factual report.