Rutland County Council chief executive “distressed” by e-mails sent by man accused of stalking her, court told

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The chief executive of Rutland County Council told a court she was “distressed” by e-mails and tweets from a former Oakham town councillor accused of stalking and harassing her.

Helen Briggs was speaking as she gave evidence yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon against Martin Brookes, of Willow Crescent, Oakham.

Brookes, 47, is appearing before district judge John Temperley at Leicester Magistrates Court to face three charges of harassment and three charges of stalking Mrs Briggs, Oakham town councillor Charles Howarth and Sgt Christopher Wharton.

Brookes denies the charges, which are alleged to have happened between December 15 and June 6.

The court heard that Brookes sent several e-mails to Mrs Briggs in which he had cut and pasted material from his blog, copying it to a number of people including county councillors, police and Rutland MP Alan Duncan.

Speaking on the second day of Brookes’ trial, Mrs Briggs said: “I expect robust challenge and criticism for the job I do.

“What becomes more difficult is when the criticism becomes personalised, and is incorrect. It was distressing.”

Prosecuting solicitor John Western read extracts from some of the blogs. They included accusations of manipulating the police and being dictatorial which, Mrs Briggs said, were false allegations.

One extract said she used council money to “fund her hobby” of cycling.

Mrs Briggs said the county council had decided to fund the Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic which was under threat of being cancelled, along with the Local Strategic Partnership, because it was good for the county.

She said: “The decision was not made by me. I’m not sure what direct benefit I as a cyclist was expected to gain from it.”

Mrs Briggs agreed the council worked closely with the police but added there was “absolutely no” manipulating.

Mrs Briggs added: “The issue for me was lots of people would choose not to look at his blog but he was cutting and pasting his blog post into an e-mail and sending it to lots of people.”

Mr Western asked whether Mrs Briggs had responded to any of the e-mails.

She said: “On the odd occasion when there were factual inaccuracies a council officer would respond.

“I chose not to respond because of my experience of anyone who challenged Mr Brookes.”

Mrs Briggs told the court that Brookes also took entries from her Facebook account, which he also e-mailed to a number of people.

She said her Facebook account was public at the time.

But she added: “The fact that he took pictures from it, it took things to a new dimension. People who were not related to my work had now become involved. Subsequently I set my Facebook to private.”

Mrs Briggs will continue her evidence tomorrow (Thursday) when she will be cross examined by defence solicitor David Swingler.

The court has already heard from Sgt Wharton and Mr Howarth.

The trial will resume on Thursday.