Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

PURE POISON; Angry Chiefs Speak after Nasty Letters

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

PURE POISON; Angry Chiefs Speak after Nasty Letters

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH JUDD

MIDDLESBROUGH councillors past and present have spoken out about the "nasty" and "threatening" poisoned pen letters that have blighted their lives.

Barbara Dunne, Labour councillor for Ayresome, Oliver Johnson former Beechwood Labour councillor and Garry Clarke, the Labour councillor for Beechwood, all came forward to share their experiences after reading about the Gazette's mystery letter writer.

The Evening Gazette has discovered various letters to our Your Say page to be the work of a deceitful, albeit diligent scribe using various pseudonyms and Teesside addresses.

Now the councillors, as well as Teresa Higgins, who ran for a Beechwood Ward seat two years ago and is a retired Middlesbrough Council worker, have also come forward to share their own experiences of receiving anonymous letters.

Garry Clarke said he has received anonymous letters over a period of three to four years. He said: "There was one sent six weeks ago which was addressed my wife, but it was about me. It was quite unpleasant and caused a lot of distress." Cllr Clarke added some residents in the Beechwood ward had also received poisoned pen letters. He said: "Whoever is doing this must lead a very sad life. Most people have family, friends and a social life. This person obviously doesn't have any of that. I think it's the same person who's writing the ones in the Gazette." Barbara Dunne was shocked to receive anonymous letters over a two-week period two years ago, chastising her for joining the Labour party after she was originally voted in as an independent councillor. They claimed Barbara had let residents down by changing to Labour, despite the fact she had sought their opinions on the move and was well supported by them.

Sickeningly, one referred to the death of her 31-year-old son, Robert, who was stabbed to death in a Middlesbrough street. It implied her son would not be proud of her for changing.

Staunch anti-knife campaigner, Barbara, said: "At the time I was terribly shocked. It got personal when the writer talked about Robert's death. It was quite sickening." Teresa Higgins had part of her finger bitten off by a dog as she posted election leaflets during her campaign. …

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