Calls for Portsmouth councillor to quit over '˜smear' email

A COUNCILLOR is facing calls to step down after his plot to '˜smear' a constituent and '˜compile information' on a domestic abuse charity was exposed.

Conservative candidate Scott Harris
Conservative candidate Scott Harris

Under-fire Scott Harris wrote to fellow Tory members in an email: ‘I do not want to go down the road of finding ways to smear Sameen Farouk, but maybe we should look at this as a viable option’.

Mr Farouk had contacted Portsmouth City councillors asking for a meeting about the America’s Cup World Series to be moved. But a fellow councillor replied to Mr Farouk, accidentally sending him Cllr Harris’ ‘smear’ email.

Now politicians from across the city have called on Cllr Harris – who sent the message to fellow Tories on the council – to quit and face his own conscience.

Cllr Will Purvis, Lib Dem for Milton, said: ‘This is completely unacceptable behaviour for a councillor.’

He added: ‘I think Cllr Harris should seriously consider his position.’

And Labour’s Aiden Gray, who represents Cosham ward, said: ‘People should be on an even playing field, smears and negative politics doesn’t do the political arena any good. It’s really a matter for Scott and his conscience.’

In the email, Cllr Harris, standing deputy of the standards committee who represents Hilsea ward, refers to Mr Farouk, who works at West Sussex County Council as a Lib Dem, says he has a ‘political vendetta’.

And he asks if there is a Conservative at West Sussex who can ‘have a word with someone to investigate’ Mr Farouk.

In the email he added: ‘The elections are coming and the politics are dirty. The tricks by the Lib Dems, the lies and the smear are disgusting.

‘Quite frankly it might be a good idea to play dirty this time. I know we shouldn’t go down to their gutter politics but should we continue to stand by and allow this to go on?’

Former councillor and Tory candidate for Cosham ward, Jim Fleming, replied and said: ‘A complaint has already been submitted to WS council regarding the actions of Sameen Farouk.’

Mr Fleming was asked to comment but did not reply to The News.

Cllr Harris – who was elected in May last year – also refers to domestic violence charity Aurora New Dawn, its chief executive Shonagh Dillon, and trade unionist Jon Woods.

In his email, Cllr Harris adds: ‘I’m also compiling some stuff on Shonagh Dillon, Aurora New Dawn and Sisters Uncut. Interestingly I’ve found some stuff on Jon Woods and the SWP locally which will be useful when the loony left come calling nearer May.’

Ms Dillon said: ‘Aurora New Dawn believe this is totally unacceptable, but it is up to the residents and the electorate to decide what they think.’

City council solicitor Michael Lawther said it was a political matter and the authority would not have any further involvement.

NO ACTION will be taken against the councillor at the centre of the smear plot.

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, hit back at Sameen Farouk, who was the subject of a suggested smear bid by Cllr Scott Harris.

She said: ‘I pulled Scott to one side and said “that’s not the way we operate”. No further action is being taken – it’s now over. This is one naive young member.’

She added: ‘I was thinking about a rebuttal to this about how many FOI requests, how many emails (Mr Farouk) sends – it’s so bad, it’s horrific. He is wasting a lot of public money.’