Page last updated at 13:54 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Witch-hunt claim councillor quits

Debra Storr
Ms Storr was one of four councillors who spoke out against the plans

A councillor who opposed Donald Trump's 1bn golf resort has resigned from her party, claiming she was the victim of a "witch-hunt".

Debra Storr was one of the councillors who opposed the US tycoon's plans for the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire.

Ms Storr said the "increasingly intolerant and illiberal" attitude of the Lib Dem group on Aberdeenshire Council had forced her to quit.

The Lib Dem group said its process had been "entirely fair".

Mr Trump's plans were this month backed by Finance Secretary John Swinney.

The proposal for two championship golf courses, 950 holiday homes and 500 houses were rejected by a council committee last year before being called in by the Scottish Government.

Ms Storr's decision to resign came after the Lib Dem group met on Monday to consider having her removed.

'Last straw'

She said: "With regret I have decided that I no longer wish to be part of the Liberal Democrat group on Aberdeenshire Council.

"The behaviour of the group's leadership has become increasingly intolerant and illiberal over the past year as it has pursued a relentless witchhunt against councillors who were within their rights to vote with their conscience on the Menie planning application.

"The last straw for me was the group's decision to consider excluding me for defending the liberal principle of 'innocent until proved otherwise'."

Ms Storr said she was unable to attend Monday's meeting, and despite her requests was not informed of the outcome.

There was no witch-hunt, nothing of that kind whatsoever
Peter Argyle
Deputy group leader

She added: "This treatment is intolerable, disrespectful, undemocratic and well beyond the bounds of civilised behaviour."

Ms Storr, who was one of four councillors who spoke out against the plans at a public inquiry earlier this year, said she would continue as councillor for Ellon and District.

Councillor Peter Argyle, deputy group leader of the Lib Dems in Aberdeenshire, said a "very clear decision" to exclude Ms Storr had been taken at Monday's meeting.

He said the decision had nothing to do with the Trump development, but had been taken after Ms Storr broke party rules earlier this year by moving to oppose her own party during a council meeting.

He said: "This process was carried out entirely fairly, and she was given every opportunity to come to the meeting to put her case across. There was no witch-hunt, nothing of that kind whatsoever."

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