Ex-councillor’s wife sent hate mail to council rival

The wife of a former Lossiemouth councillor who admitted sending his successor hate mail had her sentence delayed today.

Moray councillor Carolle Ralph resigned in December after she was subjected to a “personal campaign of intimidation” following her election victory last year.

Mrs Ralph won the seat in a shock victory over former Lossiemouth councillor and colleague David Stewart.

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But she quit after only seven months in the job when she was sent a series of anonymous offensive letters.

Mr Stewart’s wife, Joan, previously admitted causing Mrs Ralph to suffer fear and alarm by sending the mail when she appeared at Elgin Sheriff Court.

The letters - sent between May 4 and November 29 last year - criticised the councillor’s work and professional conduct, and contained offensive remarks about Mrs Ralph and her family.

Sentence had been deferred on Mrs Stewart, 59, for the preparation of a report but the court heard yesterday that it had been delayed -  as she was too well known to Moray Council. 

The court heard that background report was still being prepared by neighbouring Aberdeenshire Council’s social work department.  

The court social worker said: “We sent the report externally as there were too many connections to the council. 

“It is standard practice in these circumstances in order for it to be impartial and objective.”

Mrs Ralph was elected for the first time as one of four councillors to serve the Heldon and Laich ward for Moray Council on May 3 last year.

Shock defeat

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The former social worker was put up against sitting councillor and colleague Dave Stewart, 59, and the nationalist vote in the ward was split, resulting in Mr Stewart losing his seat.

It was a shock defeat for Mr Stewart who had served as the chairman of the Save RAF Lossiemouth campaign to stop the base being closed down.

The former councillor later quit the SNP party and is now working in the oil industry.

But he recently revealed that he would have stood as an independent candidate in the Heldon and Laich by-election sparked by Mrs Ralph’s resignation had it not been for the circumstances surrounding her departure.

Mrs Ralph claimed she had been put under “unacceptable” stress as the result of stalking when she resigned from her post in December.

In her resignation statement, she said: “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.”

The allegations shocked the small community in Moray.

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Local politicians, MP Angus Robertson and MSP Richard Lochhead met with senior police officers to discuss the claims after Mrs Ralph handed in her resignation.

Police were called in to investigate claims that Mrs Ralph had been stalked and had become a target for vicious bullying.

Sheriff Susan Raeburn called the offence a “repugnant” act.

The case is to call again for sentencing later this month.