A councillor in Northumberland has been kicked out of his party after refusing to join its county group.
Northumberland County Councillor for Morpeth Stobhill, Ian Lindley, has had national membership of the Liberal Democrats revoked at the instigation of the party’s regional branch for not joining its group on the authority.
The councillor last night voiced his anger at the move, claiming another member had been allowed to act as a non-aligned Lib Dem and accusing the party of seeking to remove him to prevent him standing as a candidate in the fight to replace MP Sir Alan Beith.
Coun Lindley, who joined the party in 2006, was first elected to the county council in 2008, serving on its executive as the Lib Dems formed the authority’s administration.
He held his seat at May’s elections despite the party being ousted from power.
Shortly afterwards Coun Lindley chose to withdraw from the party group, in protest at the fact it chose to retain the leadership which oversaw the election defeat.
The councillor recently faced criticism for producing a newsletter featuring suspected terrorist Abu Qatada.
Now, it has emerged Coun Lindley has had his national party membership revoked.
Regional branch chairman Ian Jones last night said his departure from the party’s county group was in breach of its constitution.
However, Coun Lindley queried how Rothbury county councillor Steven Bridgett had been allowed to remain a Lib Dem for five years despite not being part of the party’s council group.
He claimed the moves to have his membership revoked began after he asked to see documents about the party’s selection of its candidate to fight the Berwick seat at the 2015 general election, with Sir Alan to stand aside.
Coun Lindley, who stood for the Lib Dems at North Durham in 2010 and was therefore an approved candidate, claimed the party did not want the “opposition.”
He claimed he may stand at Berwick in 2015 as an independent.
Coun Lindley told how he had knocked on thousands of doors campaigning for the Lib Dems and had recruited three new members who have since been elected as town councillors in Morpeth.
He said he would be continuing to work with them and producing a joint newsletter, but not under the Lib Dem banner.
Coun Lindley, who undertook party leadership training in 2008, said: “If they had not expelled me, I would not be staying.”
A party spokesman said the rule about non-aligned members had been in place a number of years but that local groups may not have been aware of it. He claimed Coun Bridgett’s party membership had lapsed although the councillor refuted this.