Whisteblower councillor suspended after finance row

Coun Rob Holden has been suspended after a row in the Conservative Party.

Coun Rob Holden has been suspended after a row in the Conservative Party.

A councillor who told the Courier he ‘blew the whistle’ on alleged financial irregularities at Calder Valley Conservative Association has been suspended from the party.

Coun Rob Holden (Ryburn) said a request he made for an independent financial audit into the branch’s financial records led to an ongoing police investigation and sparked a row within the group.

He was suspended from the branch last month and resigned the whip from the council group this week in an open letter to Calderdale Tory leaders. Coun Holden said the group’s decision amounted to the “intimidation of a whistle-blower” and questioned its impartiality.

A Conservative Party spokesman confirmed that an earlier suspension from the branch was still in effect and that Coun Holden had now been suspended from the party following a meeting this week.

But the party refused to comment on the reasons for his suspension or whether a request for an independent financial audit played a role in the police investigation.

Leader of Calderdale Council Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said: “Coun Holden’s resignation indicates that there are major issues within the Conservative group.

“He has alleged that there is an unhealthy relationship between the Conservative group and the office of the Calder Valley MP, and in my view this is reflected in the continued failure of the Conservatives in Calderdale to stand up for our area against the Government when necessary.

“He also appears to be suggesting that action was taken against him by the Conservative group for his actions in raising concerns about the running of Calder Valley Conservative Association - effectively, punishing him for whistle blowing. If that is true, this is unacceptable in any organisation.”

Since his suspension Coun Holden has retained his seat and is now listed on Calderdale Council’s website as an independent.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “After a meeting of the Calder Valley Conservative Association last night (Tuesday), Mr Holden has been suspended by the party.”