Scarborough councillor Bill Chatt cleared of alleged lockdown Covid breach by North Yorkshire Police

A Scarborough councillor has revealed he has been cleared by police of a potential Covid-rules breach that was alleged to have occurred during a meeting of the borough council earlier this year.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 12:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 12:47 pm
Scarborough councillor Bill Chatt, inset, has been cleared of a Covid lockdown breach earlier this year by police.
Scarborough councillor Bill Chatt, inset, has been cleared of a Covid lockdown breach earlier this year by police.

Cllr Bill Chatt was reported to North Yorkshire Police after he was shown in the house of another member of the authority, Cllr Peter Popple, during a meeting held over Zoom in February.

At yesterday's Full Council meeting Cllr Chatt said that the police were taking no action and he had done nothing wrong.

Cllr Chatt said: "After the council meeting on February 21 I was reported to [the council's] Standards [committee] and the police for breaching Covid regulations by the officers of this council. I was interviewed under caution for two hours. After nearly three months the police sent a letter of no further action."

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The incident in question occurred during a vote of no confidence in the leader of the council, Labour's Cllr Steve Siddons.

During the vote, Cllr Siddons raised a point of order, claiming that Cllr Chatt, who had brought the no-confidence motion, could be heard in the same room as Cllr Peter Popple, a fellow member of the Cluster of Independent Members group.

Cllr Siddons alleged that Cllr Chatt had "indicated" to Cllr Popple how to vote during the motion.

Cllr Popple denied this, responding: "No, he was helping me with the item."

At yesterday's meeting, Cllr Chatt said that he had been trying to help Cllr Popple who had now been able to get Zoom to work on his iPad.

Cllr Chatt said he left his phone with his fellow group member but during the meeting Cllr Popple lost connection.

He added: "I returned to the member's home and took along a charging cable and got the phone back online.

"I stayed in the member's home for the rest of the meeting.

"During that meeting, the member was asked to vote and after what seemed like a long time I realised that the member never knew what to do.

"So, I said from the dining room area, 'push the button'.

"That was clearly heard at the Zoom meeting and it was suggested by another member that I was trying to influence the councillor's vote.

"According to recognised and established Covid rules I could create a support level, helping the member to join the meeting as I had been getting tested every month and knew that I was clear and I had also been tested for antibodies."

Cllr Chatt told the councillors that he was raising the issue as there was no mechanism for himself as someone who had been "accused in public in a public arena, wrongly, of wrongdoing" to set the record straight.