Police launch investigation into St Helens election night fracas

FORMER town hall leader Brian Spencer is at the centre of a police investigation today after a scuffle during the local election count led to him being escorted from the assembly hall by officers.

Mr Spencer, the St Helens Liberal Democrat leader, was hurriedly escorted away by a police inspector and a sergeant after a disturbance flared in a tension-packed counting room shortly after midnight.

The Star saw the aftermath of the incident and witnesses described the scenes as a “disgrace”. It followed a spiteful election campaign between Labour and the Lib Dems.

Police made no arrests, however, they are investigating allegations Labour’s candidate for Eccleston, Mark Johnson, was assaulted.

Officers were seen taking witness statements last night.

A police statement read: “Merseyside Police can confirm that it has received an allegation of assault at St Helens Town Hall today at 12.30am (Friday, May 4).

“Officers are currently dealing with the complaint.”

Shouting and arguing could be heard coming from the St Helens Town Hall assembly hall, where results were being returned, before police officers stepped in.

Witnesses have suggested that during the commotion, Mr Johnson was knocked off balance and fell across a table before landing on his mother Cllr Janet Johnson, who was seated.

Mr Spencer was marched out of the assembly hall to the St Helens Town Hall foyer and was not present as the results of the Sutton ward revealed he had been ousted by Labour’s Jimmy Jackson.

On a humiliating night for the Lib Dems, in which they successfully defended just the one seat, in Eccleston, the party’s long-serving deputy leader Suzanne Knight – who had been due to become the next mayor of St Helens - was also defeated in Newton.

Labour had earlier talked of targeting those seats as part of a “decapitation strategy”. Asked what the night meant for the Lib Dems, Marie Rimmer, the Labour council leader, said: “They have gone.”

She added: “We will not let that incident spoil our night. It is disappointing.”

The fact both the Lib Dems leader and deputy leader have been deposed, will raise questions marks over the party’s future direction in St Helens.

The Star’s attempts to contact the Lib Dem leadership on Friday were unsuccessful.

Comments (16)

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9:50am Sat 5 May 12

frankly says...

Whats that saying ? "Their are good winners and bad losers"
Whats that saying ? "Their are good winners and bad losers" frankly
  • Score: 0

11:29am Sat 5 May 12

PM says...

Some politicians believe they have a God-given right to be elected. The fact is 'council seats' belong to the voters of St Helens, not Councillors or political parties.
Some politicians believe they have a God-given right to be elected. The fact is 'council seats' belong to the voters of St Helens, not Councillors or political parties. PM
  • Score: 0

3:30pm Sat 5 May 12

pitbullboxing says...

Like Eric Joyce?
Like Eric Joyce? pitbullboxing
  • Score: 0

10:10pm Sun 6 May 12

frankly says...

Must be anoyed at losing their allowances.
Must be anoyed at losing their allowances. frankly
  • Score: 0

2:28pm Thu 10 May 12

smith&weston says...

I hope the people who put a cross next to any of the names involved in the scuffle take a good hard look at their political choices. I'd like to think that people getting angry in the count where doing so because they where worried about not being able to represent voters in their ward and not at the thought of loosing a nice little earner.
I hope the people who put a cross next to any of the names involved in the scuffle take a good hard look at their political choices. I'd like to think that people getting angry in the count where doing so because they where worried about not being able to represent voters in their ward and not at the thought of loosing a nice little earner. smith&weston
  • Score: 0

4:44pm Thu 10 May 12

Sankey says...

I don't think either Labour or the Lib Dems come accross with any credit. It said in the reporter that Labour councillors were goading the Lib Dems about getting beat. Appeciate its late at night and emotions are high but what are these people children? That applies to both sides. No wonder S Helens is one of the most depressed towns in the UK
I don't think either Labour or the Lib Dems come accross with any credit. It said in the reporter that Labour councillors were goading the Lib Dems about getting beat. Appeciate its late at night and emotions are high but what are these people children? That applies to both sides. No wonder S Helens is one of the most depressed towns in the UK Sankey
  • Score: 0

7:35pm Thu 10 May 12

smith&weston says...

IF IT SHOWS ONE THING, IT SHOWS THAT OUR VOTES ARE MERELY A GAME TO THEM.
IF IT SHOWS ONE THING, IT SHOWS THAT OUR VOTES ARE MERELY A GAME TO THEM. smith&weston
  • Score: 0

8:08pm Thu 10 May 12

Sankey says...

anyone heard how Mark Johnson is recovering from his injuries. Because no one could be so small minded and show such a lack of public spirit as to initiate a charge of assault for a scuffle and tie up police time? Tell me that is not the case here?
anyone heard how Mark Johnson is recovering from his injuries. Because no one could be so small minded and show such a lack of public spirit as to initiate a charge of assault for a scuffle and tie up police time? Tell me that is not the case here? Sankey
  • Score: 0

8:59pm Thu 10 May 12

chasmcn says...

Sankey wrote:
anyone heard how Mark Johnson is recovering from his injuries. Because no one could be so small minded and show such a lack of public spirit as to initiate a charge of assault for a scuffle and tie up police time? Tell me that is not the case here?
Always good for a laugh sankey You sure the tories are liliy white do we not have a Prime Minster,Chancellor of the Exchequer and a Mayor of London that use to enjoy smashing up restaurants and windows wasting police time as Bullingdon members

No wonder the UK is back in recession
[quote][p][bold]Sankey[/bold] wrote: anyone heard how Mark Johnson is recovering from his injuries. Because no one could be so small minded and show such a lack of public spirit as to initiate a charge of assault for a scuffle and tie up police time? Tell me that is not the case here?[/p][/quote]Always good for a laugh sankey You sure the tories are liliy white do we not have a Prime Minster,Chancellor of the Exchequer and a Mayor of London that use to enjoy smashing up restaurants and windows wasting police time as Bullingdon members No wonder the UK is back in recession chasmcn
  • Score: 0

9:42pm Thu 10 May 12

Sankey says...

Chasmcn you are even a better laugh. I never realised the PM, COE and the Mayor of London were smashing up St Helens Town Hall last Thursday. AND it never made the Star or Reporter. Whats the chances of that happening? Maybe you have one of your famous links to show us?
Chasmcn you are even a better laugh. I never realised the PM, COE and the Mayor of London were smashing up St Helens Town Hall last Thursday. AND it never made the Star or Reporter. Whats the chances of that happening? Maybe you have one of your famous links to show us? Sankey
  • Score: 0

12:11am Fri 11 May 12

PM says...

Sankey wrote:
anyone heard how Mark Johnson is recovering from his injuries. Because no one could be so small minded and show such a lack of public spirit as to initiate a charge of assault for a scuffle and tie up police time? Tell me that is not the case here?
that's rather churlish of you, Sankey. You do not need to be injured to be a victim of assault.God help us if we could all be grappled and thrown around with inpunity.It's up to the person who has been assaulted to decide the effect on themselves, and the police to decide if a case exists.
[quote][p][bold]Sankey[/bold] wrote: anyone heard how Mark Johnson is recovering from his injuries. Because no one could be so small minded and show such a lack of public spirit as to initiate a charge of assault for a scuffle and tie up police time? Tell me that is not the case here?[/p][/quote]that's rather churlish of you, Sankey. You do not need to be injured to be a victim of assault.God help us if we could all be grappled and thrown around with inpunity.It's up to the person who has been assaulted to decide the effect on themselves, and the police to decide if a case exists. PM
  • Score: 0

12:54am Fri 11 May 12

smith&weston says...

So will the newly elected councillors be working to make St Helens a better place or merely indulging in tit for tat politics until the next set of elections ?
So will the newly elected councillors be working to make St Helens a better place or merely indulging in tit for tat politics until the next set of elections ? smith&weston
  • Score: 0

9:57am Fri 11 May 12

Sankey says...

PM I feel Mr Johnson is trying to get one over on a political rival. If someone broke my jaw I would report it to the police if they pushed me I would look at them with contempt but I would not report it to the police and I suspect neither would you or another else. Councillor Johnson will not come out of this very well either in his role as a public official or as a man. Of course if he has been injured then I take it all back.
PM I feel Mr Johnson is trying to get one over on a political rival. If someone broke my jaw I would report it to the police if they pushed me I would look at them with contempt but I would not report it to the police and I suspect neither would you or another else. Councillor Johnson will not come out of this very well either in his role as a public official or as a man. Of course if he has been injured then I take it all back. Sankey
  • Score: 0

1:08pm Fri 11 May 12

anthonywilson says...

I don't think either the Lib Dems or Labour emerge with much credit from this incident. Political goading goes on all the time between some of the councillors and instead of personal verbal attacks on each other they should be focussing on getting the job done and representing the interests of their constituents rather than the party line. St Helens has plenty of problems to contend with rather than childish party political squabbles between people who should know better. Is it any wonder the voting turnout is so low when incidents like this happen? The level of turnout for the election was yet again appalling. The councillors and unsuccessful candidates should all have a re-look at themselves and reflect why this is.
I don't think either the Lib Dems or Labour emerge with much credit from this incident. Political goading goes on all the time between some of the councillors and instead of personal verbal attacks on each other they should be focussing on getting the job done and representing the interests of their constituents rather than the party line. St Helens has plenty of problems to contend with rather than childish party political squabbles between people who should know better. Is it any wonder the voting turnout is so low when incidents like this happen? The level of turnout for the election was yet again appalling. The councillors and unsuccessful candidates should all have a re-look at themselves and reflect why this is. anthonywilson
  • Score: 0

1:54pm Fri 11 May 12

Sankey says...

Anthony you are so right. There is a lot of banter on this forum Labour are best, Tories are best the truth is the lot of them are all career politicians without a principle amongst them. Membership of both the Tory and Labour parties are at historic lows, voter turnout struggles to achieve 50%, opinion poll and poll shows total disinterest and apathy from the public over politicians whom they don’t trust. This episode has shamed St Helens (it made the national news) these people are worse than children and involving the police is simply ridiculous.
Anthony you are so right. There is a lot of banter on this forum Labour are best, Tories are best the truth is the lot of them are all career politicians without a principle amongst them. Membership of both the Tory and Labour parties are at historic lows, voter turnout struggles to achieve 50%, opinion poll and poll shows total disinterest and apathy from the public over politicians whom they don’t trust. This episode has shamed St Helens (it made the national news) these people are worse than children and involving the police is simply ridiculous. Sankey
  • Score: 0

5:10pm Fri 11 May 12

papyt says...

if i read the story correctly,MARK JOHNSON CLLR,his mum and dad BOTH cllrs,were verbally abusing MR SPENCER and blocking his path as he was trying to leave,so how come MR SPENCER is in the wrong for going about his business,what would happen if someone did this in the street and harassed someone,just the labour press shifting the blame and god help those he is supposed to be representing he seems a bit of a cry baby.
if i read the story correctly,MARK JOHNSON CLLR,his mum and dad BOTH cllrs,were verbally abusing MR SPENCER and blocking his path as he was trying to leave,so how come MR SPENCER is in the wrong for going about his business,what would happen if someone did this in the street and harassed someone,just the labour press shifting the blame and god help those he is supposed to be representing he seems a bit of a cry baby. papyt
  • Score: 0

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