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Last Updated: Friday, 27 July 2007, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
Three quit over 'stripogram' row
(l-r) Simon Inch, Caroline Church and Tony Inch, Pic Torridge District Council
The councillors said they would serve better as Independents
A row over a stripogram web promotion of a Liberal Democrat town councillor has led to the resignations of three party members in Devon.

Caroline Church and brothers Simon and Tony Inch say they will now sit as Independents in Bideford.

They cited "irretrievable differences" with party officials over the website feature of councillor Myrna Bushell and a sex chatline she hosts.

Bideford Town Council said Ms Bushell had not breached its code of conduct.

Town clerk George McLauchlan said Mrs Bushell's business activities did not impinge on her duties as a councillor.

'Private life'

All four councillors were elected to Bideford Town Council in May on the Liberal Democrat ticket.

At the time, Mrs Bushell appeared on an entertainment agency website as "Jessica", described as a "Devon lady kissogram, stripogram and stripper entertainer".

Simon Inch said the councillors' decision to resign from the Liberal Democrats was partly because of Mrs Bushell's appearance on the website and partly because of the way the matter was dealt with by party constituency executive.

We believe our integrity and principles will be compromised if we stay
Statement by Caroline Church, Simon and Tony Inch

He said: "To me personally that sort of behaviour should not be happening if you are a councillor, and I stick to that.

"I know it is her private life, but if you are a councillor you should not carry on that sort of thing, and the three of us held the same view."

He said the website partially came to light via an anonymous e-mail at the time candidates were being interviewed at branch level before the election.

He said Mrs Bushell "should have been instructed not to stand".

"We have been dealing with the matter with the executive but they have not done anything about it. We wanted the executive to instruct them to resign," he said.

In a statement, the three councillors said: "We believe our integrity and principles will be compromised if we stay."

They said they believed they could serve Bideford better as Independent councillors.

Mrs Bushell would not comment on the website and said she would also now be standing as an Independent.

No one from the Torridge and West Devon Liberal Democrat Group was available for comment.

A spokesman for the Liberal Democrat party headquarters said: "We see this as very much a matter for the local party so we are leaving it to them."




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