Councillor Tamala Collier allegedly suffered online abuse after criticism from Maxine Smith
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The couple at the heart of allegations that saw Cromarty Firth Councillor Maxine Smith suspended for one month have spoken out about what they say was for them an ordeal.
Councillor Tamala Collier and her husband James responded to the news that the Standards Commission for Scotland found Cllr Smith had been discriminatory and failed to register interests on time.
The commission panel decided that Cllr Smith’s claims that because Cllr Collier was pregnant she may not be “consistent” enough to carry out her duties on a planning committee was discrimination of a protected characteristic.
The veteran councillor hit back at her critics and aimed some fire at both Cllr Collier and her husband James Collier who made the original complaint saying “for the two years this has been hanging over me, I’ve found it very difficult to work with Councillor Tamala Collier due to her husband’s actions.”
While Cllr Collier looked to draw a line under the experience, saying: “I’ve been through a very stressful period pre-election and after due to a chain of events,” her husband slammed Cllr Smith’s response.
Cllr Collier said: “All I want is to be able to serve my communities by doing my job as an elected councillor in peace and collaboration with all parties just like every other elected member.
“I’ve never stopped working with anybody nor I or any of my family members would stop anybody from doing their job either. It’s time we all move on in life as grown-up adults do the right for the betterment of all living beings.”
Mr Collier does not believe that Cllr Smith is truly sorry for her actions because she accused him of gathering evidence and allegations against her.
He said: “The Ethical Standards Commission confirmed my wife was discriminated against and that there was no justification for that discrimination. The response from Cllr Smith shows that she isn't sorry. Everybody else is to blame including me and Tamala. The person she made feel like she couldn't take a day off to look after their child is to blame.”
A particular sore point is the issue of a key vote over financing new schools. The SNP-led administration, of which Cllr Collier is a member, withdrew long-promised funding without warning and refused to look for alternatives.
Mr Collier said: “How she [Cllr Smith] has the audacity to then go on and continue her claims stating Tamala voted for Park Primary to be removed from the Capital Budget Program is quite unbelievable.
“After Cllr Smith made her claims on social media, which suggested Tamala had betrayed her electorate, Tamala started to receive messages from fake social media accounts that would appear and then the account and the message would disappear.
“These messages included threats against the family and kids. We also had some people shout traitor as they passed our front door. This resulted in us having to remove our kids, of 12 years and five years of age, from the school until a safety plan was put in place.
Subsequently, Cllr Collier did make another complaint believing the social media posts were “incitement” but it was turned down by the Ethical Standards Commissioner.
He said: “Tamala did make a complaint to the Ethical Standards Commission as we both felt that post, which contained information Cllr Smith should know is incorrect, was incitement.
“Sadly, due to the messages Tamala had received being deleted and the accounts deleted, we weren't able to meet the burden of proof the Ethical Standards Commission would need to take the matter forward.
“We don't even want to need to make complaints to anybody. My wife wants to be allowed to get on with her job but sadly she hasn't been allowed to and has regularly had to deal with an issue caused by Cllr Smith or those connected to her."