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Police launch investigation into St Helens election night fracas
6:00pm Friday 4th May 2012 in News
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.