EXILED’ NORTHUMBERLAND COUNCILLOR Roderick Lawrie has admitted to The Clarion that he will resign his Norham and Islandshires council seat. “I have no other option,” he said, sadly.
But he hit back at claims that his attendances at council meetings suffered after he was forced to leave the country and move his home and business to the Isle of Man.
“My home is now in the Isle of Man,” he told The Clarion. “But with email I can do – indeed I have been doing – all of my county council work.
“In fact my record of attendance at County Hall meetings [in Morpeth] is 100 per cent, I just can’t get to all the parish council meetings.”
Concern has been expressed from some of the dozen north Northumberland parish councils he represents at county level that his level of attendance at full council and committee meetings might be low. Indeed, a Freedom of Information request on those lines was submitted by one parish to County Hall but the enquiry was never pursued [CLICK HERE].
Councillor Lawrie still feels he cannot comment on claims from friends and former employees that he has been forced offshore because his snuff tobacco company, Toque Snuff, was threatened with a €2.4million registration bill to allow him to trade in the EU. He is, however, keen to explain the difficulties relating to his council work.
Speaking from his family home in Invergowrie outside Dundee, Mr Lawrie said: “I’m only visiting Invergowrie as it is my family home but my own residence now is on the Isle of Man, where I have started a new snuff business.
“I have achieved a lot in the two years I have been a county councillor, I’m just sorry I can’t get to all the parish meetings any more.”
A byelection if or when Mr Lawrie’s seat is vacated is inevitable, but presumably Northumberland must await his resignation before it can act. Will Booth, senior elections manager for Northumberland County, explained that ongoing qualification to serve is based on the qualification of the individual at the time of their nomination but that he must remain qualified to vote in the constituency from the day of nomination onwards for the full term of office.