THE wife of a former councillor has been questioned by detectives investigating the “cowardly and appalling” hate campaign against a female councillor which forced her to quit after only six months in office.
• Wife of former councillor questioned by police in connection with hate campaign directed at SNP councillor
• Carolle Ralph stood down after six months in office after being subject to “vicious bullying and personal campaign of intimidation”
Carolle Ralph, a former council social worker training officer announced in December that she was standing down as an SNP councillor in Moray following a “vicious, bullying and personal campaign of intimidation” after her election victory in May last year.
She had been elected as one of the four councillors representing Lossiemouth’s Heldon and Laich ward on Moray Council in a vote which led to sitting SNP councillor Dave Stewart losing his place in the council chamber as a result of the SNP’s decision to field two Party candidates in each Moray ward.
Sources at Grampian Police have now confirmed that 58 year-old Joan Stewart, the wife of former Councillor Stewart, has been questioned by officers investigating the anonymous letters and social media messages that led to Ms Ralph being hounded from office. She is understood to have been interviewed by officers at her home at the weekend.
A report is being submitted to the Procurator Fiscal but no-one has yet been charged.
A spokesman for the North east force said: “Grampian Police can confirm they have concluded the investigation into the sending of a series of letters to SNP Councillors in Moray. A report on the circumstances is being prepared and will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal for their consideration.”
Both Councillor Ralph and Mr Stewart had played prominent roles in the successful campaign to retain RAF Lossiemouth as a frontline air base.
A spokesman for the SNP in Moray announced in December that Ms Ralph was stepping down as a result of an “anonymous hate-mail campaign” which started after her election on 3 May 2012. He continued: “The police are investigating the letters which are described as part of a ‘vicious, bullying and personal campaign of intimidation.’
Ms Ralph said in a statement at the time: “There comes a point where enough is enough. I stood for the council to work for the community not to become a target for vicious bullying and a personal campaign of intimidation. My family life has been put under an unacceptable amount of stress as a direct result of this stalking and I am not prepared to carry on in these circumstances.
“This is not a decision I have come to lightly, it is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, especially given my commitment to this community which I love and which all my life has always been so important to me.”
Mrs Stewart could not be contacted for comment.
Six candidates are contesting the by-election for the vacant seat on the council. The candidates are Pete Bloomfield (Conservative), John Cowe (Independent), Stuart Crowther (Scottish National Party), Jeff Hamilton (Independent), James MacKessack-Leitch (Scottish Green Party) and Nick Traynor (Independent).
Mr Crowther, the SNP candidate and a former RAF airman, said that the message he was hearing from people on the doorstep was that voters were “angered” about the reasons for the by-election.
He said: “The message I’ve been hearing at the doorstep both from those who say they support the SNP and those who don’t is that they are disgusted we are having to have this by-election in the first place.
“We have an opportunity in this by-election to show not only in Moray but throughout Scotland that the rule of democracy is absolute and people will simply not stand by and allow what happened to Carolle Ralph pass without reaction.”