Three Lib Dem councillors suspended

The Aberdeen Press and Journal reports,

Councillors who resigned from a local authority group have been suspended by their party and threatened with expulsion.

Paul Johnston, Sam Coull and Debra Storr quit the Aberdeenshire Council Liberal Democrat group, but remained members of the party, after a row over Donald Trump’s golf resort plans.

A spokesman said the Scottish Liberal Democrat executive committee voted to suspend the trio at a meeting on Saturday.

He added: “The party hope they will rejoin the Liberal Democrat group on the council, but the choice is now theirs.”

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Bernard’s comments about “quite a few” I suspect is the usual Scottish understatement! I’ve known Debra for many years (as have most people involved with the Scottish party) and she is a true stalwart of the organisation up here. I also know that she would not deliberately set out to damage the party but would be prepared to stand up for things which she believed to be right.

    There are a number of issues about this which concern me, not least the fact that they (and Martin Ford, another long-serving party supporter) who has are being punished for a planning decision which the group leadership didn’t approve of, regardless of the fact that these can’t be whipped and must be dealt with independently. I understand that the subject was discussed by the Scottish Executive on Saturday and the suspension approved by them – a very, very disappointing turn of events.

  • Liberal Neil 3rd Mar '09 - 12:34pm

    It is very easy to garble one’s words in situations like this.

    When the spokesman for the Scottish Party said:

    “The party hope they will rejoin the Liberal Democrat group on the council, but the choice is now theirs.”

    I’m sure he really meant to say:

    “The Scottish Party are fully committed to fully investigating this situation and the factors that led up to it over the past 18 months.

    “If it is found that Debra Storr, Paul Johnston and Sam Coull (and even Martin Ford) are in the wrong, then it will be up to them to apologise and apply to rejoin the Lib Dem Group.

    “If however it is found that the current situation is all a result of the Group’s mistreatment of Martin Ford 18 motnhs ago over the Trump planning application later compounded by its mistreatment of Paul Johnston and Debra Storr’s principled defence of him, then action will be taken against the Lib Dem group and they will be asked to apologise and change their ways.”

    I’m sure this must be the case, otherwise it would suggest that the Scottish Party does not believe it has a responsibility to properly investigate the whole situation, treat all members equally and ensure due process.

  • I am amazed (and horrified) that any Liberal Democrat at all in Aberdeenshire or anywhere else support’s Trump’s proposal to ruin the North Sea coast.

  • Mark Senior 3rd Mar '09 - 12:54pm

    I sincerely hope that the Press article wrongly quotes the unnamed Scottish Liberal Executive spokesman . If correct it would be a total betrayal of basic Liberal principles and the persecution of these 3 members for the “crime” of upholding Liberal values rather than selling them out to Trump .

  • Daniel Bowen 3rd Mar '09 - 12:56pm

    The Scottish Party are making a bad situation worse. Paul, Martin and Debra have long been three Liberal Democrats most noted for their instinctive Liberalism and commitment to this Party. The so-called “Liberal Democrat” group and its authoritarian leader on Aberdeenshire seem intent on destroying the party in that part of the world and it is a disgrace the Scottish Party is backing them.

  • Steven Ronald 3rd Mar '09 - 1:56pm

    I would say Good riddance to them – but it does seem harsh. What utter havoc they managed to cause with their zany nimby tree-hugging stance though.

  • Steven Ronald 3rd Mar '09 - 1:58pm

    “ruin the North Sea coast.”

    Eh?? He was building a golf course ffs.

  • Liberal Neil 3rd Mar '09 - 2:20pm

    That would be this one then:

    “The proposal involves the development of a golf resort including two 18-hole golf courses, a 450-bedroom hotel with conference centre and spa, 950 holiday apartments, 500 houses for sale and new access onto the A90 trunk road with ancillary developments.”

    Clearly just a small golf course ffs.

    Amazing that those against the plans included:

    “Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Botanical Society of the British Isles, Ramblers’ Association Scotland and Councillors Ford, Johnston, Ross and Storr.”

    Didn’t the plans also win an award recently?

  • Steven Ronald 3rd Mar '09 - 2:38pm

    So just to confirm; you’re not only against golf course but also hotels, conference centres, holiday apartments and houses…

  • Liberal Neil 3rd Mar '09 - 2:58pm

    When they are going to be built on unspoilt coast and SSSIs I would at least think twice about it, yes.

  • David Allen 3rd Mar '09 - 3:17pm

    I have no idea whether I’m against golf courses in Scotland ffs. But I do know that no decent party expels councillors over their views on planning issues – which of couse must be strictly non-party-political.

  • “But I do know that no decent party expels councillors over their views on planning issues – which of couse must be strictly non-party-political.”

    AIUI this concerns actions after the planning meeting rather than their decision. I’m not suggesting that I support the decision taken as I don’t know enough details. I would be surprised if the people involved had done anything seriously to the detriment of the party though I have known sound liberals go off the rails on occasion.

  • Liberal Neil 3rd Mar '09 - 7:04pm

    But the treatment of them by their group does all go back to the planning decision.

    It started after the original decision when the group then ousted Martin Ford from the Chair of the Committee.

    It continued when the group leader publicly attacked Paul Johnston for making comments about the planning application and when she then refused to apologise once he had been exonerated by the satndards Committee.

    It then sank to even further depths when Debra Storr came under attack for having the temerity to suggest that the group shouldn’t condemn Paul until his case had been heard.

    Unfortunately the Scottish Executive has ignored the complaints they made against the group, but 18 months down the line has decided to suspend the three.

    What they should do is have a proper investigation into the whole series of events, not try and deal with the problem by ousting three councillors who, on the face of it, have been on the sharp end of some pretty shabby treatment.

  • Liberal Neil 4th Mar '09 - 3:06pm

    See bernard salmon’s blog post on the timeline of events here:

    And his original post at the time Martin King was ousted here:

    You will start to see why so many party activists are concerned that the Scottish Executive do not appear to be looking at the whole picture in a balanced way.

  • If you are a suspended member can you rejoin the council group in any case?

    My vague recollection of model Standing Orders was that you had to be and remain a party member.

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