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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 November, 2004, 18:39 GMT
Laptop claims lead to suspensions
Colin Anderson and Aileen Handy
The councillors deny any wrongdoing
Two Sunderland city councillors have been suspended from the Labour Party over alleged "inappropriate use" of computers.

Former leader Colin Anderson and Cabinet member Aileen Handy can no longer take part in council business.

Their suspension follows routine maintenance checks of council-issued laptops, which it is claimed revealed access to "inappropriate websites".

Both councillors say they are shocked and dismayed at the claims.

Les Scott, chief whip of Sunderland's Labour Party, which controls the city council, said in a statement: "Following routine maintenance of council-supplied computers, evidence has come to light that those supplied to Councillor Colin Anderson and Councillor Aileen Handy, have been used inappropriately and in breach of an undertaking signed when receiving the equipment."

The matter has been handed over to the independent council watchdog organisation, the Standards Board for England.

In a statement Mr Anderson said: "I am co-operating fully with the investigation that is underway, but I categorically state I have not accessed any pornographic sites via council computers or any other computers."

Ms Handy said she was "devastated" at her suspension and added in a statement: "I think it's scandalous it has gone public at this stage.

"I have not been told the exact nature of the allegations and I'm in touch with my solicitors."

Both councillors will continue to act for their respective council wards.

A spokesman for the Standards Board fro England said the situation related to "alleged misuse of resources".

The BBC's Keith Akehurst
"An administrative suspension has been issued by the national Labour Party"

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