LEDBURY'S mayor, Cllr Bob Barnes, said an accusation that he and a staff member circulated a malicious and defamatory email about a fellow councillor was "contemptible".

At a town council meeting on April 16, the accusation was made by Richard Hadley who, until recently, was a town councillor.

At the meeting, Mr Hadley accused Mr Barnes and a "junior clerical officer" of "widely circulating a malicious and defamatory allegation" about him.

Mr Hadley quoted from the email, claiming the mayor had called his behaviour "a stain on his tenure as mayor" which had "brought the council into disrepute".

Cllr Barnes said: " His statement includes the accusation of me and a member of staff, widely circulating a malicious and defamatory allegation about me, - quite without substance. It is that have found so contemptible.

"The e-mail was sent to him only and I'm still waiting for a reply, although he did circulate his response to all other councillors.

"I didn't circulate it; he did."

Mr Hadley said: "Bob Barnes circulated to the entire Ledbury Town Council. As I was away on holiday when it arrived I sent him a very short holding response. Within three days he had sent this to everyone, except Cllr Liz Harvey and me, with the message: ‘just keeping you up to date'."

The Reporter has seen a copy of the email, which was sent by Cllr Barnes to Mr Hadley, who was then a town councillor. It was copied, at the time it was sent, to the town clerk, Karen Mitchell.

When asked by the Reporter this week if he regretted his choice of words in the email, Cllr Barnes said: "That his actions have left a stain on my tenure, not just the action described but on many other occasions also, I stand by that.

"A statement will be issued, if approved, at the reconvened Full Council meeting on Thursday, April 23."