Leicestershire County Councillor Tony Kershaw suspended after arrest on suspicion of assault
A former chairman of Leicestershire County Council has been suspended from the authority's Tory group after being arrested on suspicion of assault.
Councillor Tony Kershaw's suspension was imposed last week but came to light yesterday after a whistleblower contacted the Leicester Mercury.
The Conservative councillor for Quorn and Barrow, a former cabinet member for waste, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
A Conservative group spokesman said Coun Kershaw had denied any wrongdoing when questioned by senior Tories. The spokesman said: "Councillor Kershaw has been suspended, without prejudice, until the completion of the police investigation.
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"Tony has been suspended from the Tory group and all his positions have ceased, but he remains a councillor."
Coun Kershaw was called before council leader Nick Rushton, deputy Byron Rhodes and Councillor Ivan Ould on Wednesday.
The spokesman said: "He protested innocence and said there was no wrongdoing.
"He accepted the decision (to suspend him)."
The Mercury understands Coun Kershaw was advised to go home afterwards but he decided to attend the full council meeting. He sat with independent councillors.
The spokesman said Coun Kershaw would be reinstated if the investigation was discontinued or he was cleared by the police.
Councillor Rushton said he was informed about the arrest by the council's chief executive, John Sinnott, at 9.30am on Wednesday.
Coun Rushton said he acted as soon as he became aware of Coun Kershaw's arrest, and suspended him two hours later.
"Normally, on matters such as this, the whole group would be informed," said Coun Rushton.
"I wanted to act quickly, however, so I used my executive powers to suspend him.
"He has been suspended without prejudice and that is the really important thing.
"He has not been charged and has been released on police bail.
"It is a sensitive time for Tony because we are in the run-up to an election (in May). Police investigations involving elected members tend to go slowly."
Liberal Democrat leader Simon Galton said: "Nick Rushton has done the right thing in view of the seriousness of the allegation.
"Tony Kershaw should be suspended while the matter is investigated.
"It is important the Conservative group handles this in a way that reassures the public, councillors and council staff."
A police spokeswoman said: "We have arrested a 75-year-old man in connection with an allegation of assault.
"He has since been released on police bail."