Councillor `treated like a pariah'

A labour councillor has quit the party over his treatment by colleagues after being wrongly linked to the controversial `Dads Place' website.

A labour councillor has quit the party over his treatment by colleagues after being wrongly linked to the controversial `Dads Place' website.

Doxford councillor George Blyth was named as a "respondent" in Sunderland Housing Group's court case against the website last month, meaning he could have been ordered to supply information.

But after the application against him was abandoned, with SHG ordered to pay costs, Coun Blyth has resigned from Labour after claiming he received no support from the party.

He says he was "asked to account" for his actions based on "inaccurate" reports of the case.

In a resignation letter to the party's general secretary, Peter Watt, he said: "At no time did my local Labour group offer me any support. Even though the court has confirmed that I am innocent, I have still been treated like a pariah."

He said he was "snubbed" by group members at last month's Sunderland Air Show. He admitted openly criticising SHG in the past, and questioning whether there are conflicts of interest for Labour councillors who sit on the company's boards, which he said "has caused some degree of hostility towards me".

Coun Blyth plans to sit as an independent councillor until his term of office ends in May 2008. Fellow Doxford councillor Mike Tansey quit Labour to stand as an independent in November 2005.

Council leader Bob Symonds would not comment yesterday. But Sunderland Central constituency Labour Party chairman Paul Watson said he believed Coun Blyth had been "fully integrated" into the group and he called on him to stand down and face a by-election for his council seat.

Sunderland Housing Group took action against the Dads Place website after it published a string of allegations about staff members. A High Court ruling last month bans the authors of the site from any defamation, harassment or breaches of data protection laws. A full trial for defamation is likely to be held next year.

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