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Formal complaint yet to be made against police by St Helens Labour councillor Jo-Ann Willmitt
POLICE are adamant a Labour councillor, who has alleged officers used excessive force in an incident surrounding her arrest, needs to lodge an official complaint if they are to investigate her claims.
As revealed by the Star last week, Councillor Jo-Ann Willmitt, who has responsibilities for the licensing of bars in the town, was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly outside the Imperial nightclub.
She had been celebrating with a number of colleagues in town following the local election results.
Following her arrest she was given a fixed penalty notice, which a police spokesman said she accepted and paid.
The town centre ward councillor gave an interview to the Liverpool Echo last week in which she claimed she and her partner Ant Halliwell were mistreated by officers.
She claimed that she was arrested after intervening as officers allegedly used force while arresting Mr Halliwell.
Cllr Willmitt would not discuss the matter any further with the Star yesterday, however, she is yet to make a formal complaint to police.
In an email to the Star she wrote: “There will not be any complaint made to the police, as they will be investigating themselves so there is no point.”
However, Merseyside Police denied this was the case and stuck to a statement they issued earlier in the week, which read: “Merseyside Police has not received a complaint about this matter. If a complaint is received by the force it will be investigated.”
In a statement, St Helens Council leader Barrie Grunewald said: “A number of serious allegations have been made against Merseyside Police and these should be investigated swiftly to ensure confidence in the police service.
“Cllr Willmitt is subject to internal Labour Party procedures and once the facts have been established, a decision will be taken on what course of action will follow.”
In the Star’s story last week a police spokesman said the force had informed the council about the arrest under the ‘Notifiable Occupation Scheme’, as she was said to be in a position of trust.
Following publication the Star was contacted by Merseyside Police who said the original information they had provided was inaccurate, councillors did not fall under that scheme, meaning they did not tell the council.
The report also stated a council spokeswoman had confirmed the local authority had been made aware of the incident but added it was a police issue.
The Star has a reporter’s shorthand note regarding this point. The council dispute this, insisting their spokeswoman had just said it was a police matter.