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Former Sandwell Council boss 'bullied' online

image copyrightMelanie Dudley
image captionMelanie Dudley said she was made the subject of "sustained bullying"

A former council boss was subjected to a campaign of bullying by a colleague when "disrespectful messages" about her were sent to a blogger who published them online, an investigation found.

Sandwell Council said, on Friday, that messages sent by Richard Marshall about Melanie Dudley did amount to bullying.

But no action can be taken against him as he has already stepped down.

Mr Marshall, former Labour councillor for Smethwick, said he feels he has been made a "scapegoat".

Ms Dudley, the former assistant chief executive of the authority, has said the council should increase its sanctions.

"There were blogs coming out, there were tweets coming out alleging all sorts of incompetencies on my part and poor behaviour," she said

image copyright@SMETHWICK14
image captionRichard Marshall has said he is being made a scapegoat

"I obviously knew that they were completely and utterly untrue but it was damaging because it was so sustained."

Sandwell Council said it does not accept bullying and is "also concerned [by] insufficient powers to deal with elected members who abuse their position".

The authority has made representations to the government over this, a spokeswoman said.

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Mr Marshall stepped down from his role with the authority last year saying it was so an investigation could take place into a separate complaint about offensive messages.

He said he only made three comments about Ms Dudley using her well-known and used nicknames.

image captionSandwell Council said current powers to deal with councillors who "abuse their position" are "insufficient"

"On the few occasions I spoke to Ms Dudley during my time as councillor I was always polite and respectful," he said.

"I'm not saying that acts of bullying should not be reported, but how three comments can be judged as sustained bullying, I do not know. It's crackers," he added.

In other investigations into his conduct, the council also found Mr Marshall had breached the code of conduct by failing to treat people with respect.

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