Spencer relives election night scuffle

Brian Spencer
Brian Spencer

IT is, by any estimation, a dramatic fall from grace.

Two years ago Brian Spencer was enjoying his fourth year as council leader having led the Liberal Democrats to power in the previously Labour stronghold of St Helens.

Today he is, in his words, “an out of work councillor looking for a job” after losing the Sutton ward he held since 1989.

He is also the subject of a police probe into a scuffle that broke out at the Town Hall on election night, which resulted in him being led away by officers and a Labour candidate being knocked over a table.

Mark Johnson told police Mr Spencer assaulted him during a row over the electoral fortunes of his former deputy Suzanne Knight.

Mr Spencer denies the allegation, and, speaking exclusively to the St Helens Reporter, has insisted he was surrounded during the dispute and merely barged past a number of people to avoid further confrontation.

He was interviewed last week under police caution by detectives probing the assault claims, though no arrests have been made.

And the 64-year-old, who lives in Sutton, remains unfazed by the uproar over the May 3 fracas.

“Their (Labour’s) behaviour at every recent election has been disgraceful, and that night was no different,” he said.

“Everywhere we went there were comments and niggles designed to wind us up. It was getting very annoying.

“When the result from Suzanne’s (Knight) ward came through the Labour people were whooping and cheering, so I just said to Suzanne, ‘come on, let’s get out of here’.

“She wanted to stay and congratulate the winner but people from Labour started shouting at me about Suzanne.

“People were crowding around me, shouting things. I just barged past them to get out of there. If anyone was knocked over it was in the process of me getting away.

“The police then asked me to leave, I assume for my own safety. I certainly was not forcibly ejected, as some have made out.”

Mr Spencer, who has not ruled out a return to local politics, is adamant he will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

But he fears Labour’s now near total domination of St Helens’ political landscape will damage the town’s prospects.

He added: “We made a lot of progress when there were three strong parties, but a lot of the good the local Lib Dem-Tory coalition did has now been airbrushed from history.

“I’m just worried now that there will be a return to the bad old days.”