In further drama in the West Midlands borough of Sandwell, the court hearing scheduled to take place at Walsall magistrates’ court tomorrow morning to hear charges of racially-aggravated assault against suspended Labour councillor Bob Piper has been cancelled, after Piper reached a last-minute accommodation with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Piper told the SKWAWKBOX:
As I understand it – and the solicitor has been dealing with it, not me – the CPS have accepted what I was telling the police for five months, that there was no racially aggravated offence and the case will not now go to court. If lampooning far right reactionaries is a public order offence, I think it is a shocking indictment of public free speech.
Having said that I have had no contact at all from the police, so hopefully they are out dealing with real crimes.Cllr Bob Piper
Local press in the West Midlands have reported this afternoon that the case against Piper has been dropped after the charges were ‘withdrawn’. However, a West Midlands CPS press spokesperson confirmed to this blog that the case had concluded, rather than being abandoned, because Piper had accepted a caution.
A caution is an admission of guilt resulting in a criminal record. A caution for a ‘lesser’ offence, which Piper has accepted, results in a criminal record lasting for five years. Cautions for more serious offences can last up to ten years.
Piper remains suspended from the Labour Party. Whether his suspension will be lifted in view of his admission of guilt remains to be seen. Labour councillors were not informed by the Labour group whips last night of his suspension, even though the suspension of a local party employee was communicated and Piper should, under normal circumstances, have been removed as chair of the licensing committee on his suspension.
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