Page last updated at 18:50 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 19:50 UK

'Hoax' probe councillor suspended

The Labour group leader on Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been suspended by his party.

Mike Barnes is accused of pretending to be from the BBC in a call to Cheshire West and Chester Council to ask about its chief executive Steve Robinson.

Mr Barnes is not permitted to hold any office on behalf of Labour while he is suspended, a party spokesman said.

The councillor has rejected claims he posed as a BBC reporter, but was not available to comment on his suspension.

Mr Robinson was the chief executive at Stoke-on-Trent City Council until October 2008, when he left to take up the same role in Cheshire.

'Very seriously'

Labour confirmed that an "administrative suspension" of Mr Barnes had been authorised.

A spokesman said: "The Labour Party views very seriously the allegations made against Councillor Barnes.

"As a result of this, and pending a full inquiry, an administrative suspension has been imposed on Councillor Barnes."

The Longton South councillor had said in a statement that he totally "refutes" allegations he impersonated a BBC reporter "in any way at any time".

Mr Barnes, who is on holiday, said: "I am 100% certain that the claims cannot stand up to scrutiny and hope that it will be dealt with quickly upon my return next week."

His case could be referred to the city council's standards committee, which investigates the behaviour of elected officials.

Mr Barnes has said he will "co-operate to the best of my ability in order to clear this matter up" with any Labour Party investigation.

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