Blackpool local election hopeful is suspended over online comments

A prospective election candidate has been suspended by his party after complaints about online harrassment towards a political opponent.

Friday, 22nd March 2019, 12:23 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd March 2019, 2:43 pm
Adam Hawkins
Adam Hawkins

Adam Hawkins has been selected by the Blackpool North and Cleveleys Conservative Association to fight the Norbreck seat at this May's local elections.

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But he has been suspended by the association pending an investigation into claims he made several personal attacks online against Chris Webb, Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Blackpool North.

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Adam Hawkins

Mr Webb formally lodged a complaint about Mr Hawkins through Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard's office.

He said: "I have been subject to strong abuse from Adam for quite a while on social media.

"The main attacks came while I was abroad taking part in a charity drive.

"Political attacks are part of the business and I'm happy to have debate, but these were happening outside of politics."

Chris Webb

Since then Mr Webb has met with Mr Hawkins and accepted an apology after hearing he had been suffering from mental health issues.

Mr Webb added: "I now consider this matter closed and look forward to debating the issues with Mr Hawkins and other candidates in the upcoming local elections."

Mr Hawkins has been selected by the Conservatives to fight the Norbreck seat at the May 2 Blackpool Council elections alongside Roy Haskett after the party dropped long-standing councillors Peter and Maxine Callow.

He said the comments towards Mr Webb were made between a year and 18 months ago before he decided to stand in elections.

At that time Mr Hawkins, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome which makes social interaction difficult, said he was prone to outbursts due to the state of his mental health.

He said: "I don't believe my local party will terminate my candidacy on the basis of historical mental health issues and I feel the therapy and treatment I have received over the last 18 months has very much helped me.

"It is for the people of Norbreck to decide if I am suitable to be a councillor.

"I can do an awful lot of good as the councillor for Norbreck and be an example of autistic people in public life."

Richard Rendell, chairman of the Blackpool North and Cleveleys Conservative Association, said: "Mr Hawkins has had to resign his position while a full investigation is carried out."

Mr Maynard said: "I have been made aware of concerns raised about the conduct of a member of the Blackpool North and Cleveleys Conservative Association.

“Issues of this nature are a matter for the association and I have passed this on to the local party chairman. I understand, as a result, an individual has now been suspended from the party.”

The deadline for local election nominations is April 3 at 4pm.