By Bob Duncan
Moray parliamentarians Angus Robertson MP and Richard Lochhead MSP have launched a plea for public cooperation with the police in their investigations into the hate-mail campaign against Heldon and Laich SNP councillor Carolle Ralph.
The well-liked and respected councillor has confirmed she is to step down following an anonymous hate-mail campaign which started after her election in May 2012.
Six months ago she was elected as one of the four councillors representing Lossiemouth’s Heldon and Laich ward on Moray Council. Councillor Ralph had earlier played prominent a role in the successful campaign to retain RAF Lossiemouth as a frontline air base.
The police are investigating the letters which are described as part of a ‘vicious, bullying and personal campaign of intimidation’
Ms Ralph said in a statement: “There comes a point where enough is enough. I stood for the council to work for the community not to become a target for vicious bullying and a personal campaign of intimidation.
“My family life has been put under an unacceptable amount of stress as a direct result of this stalking and I am not prepared to carry on in these circumstances.
“This is not a decision I have come to lightly, it is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, especially given my commitment to this community which I love and which all my life has always been so important to me.”
Moray Council SNP leader Pearl Paul said: “Nobody should have to put up with the treatment Carolle Ralph has endured.
“She is a well-respected colleague who has bravely soldiered on for months, working hard for people throughout the ward whilst being targeted in this stalking campaign.
“People in Lossiemouth will be shocked by this cowardly treatment and I hope information will be provided to the police so those responsible can be brought to justice.
“In a democracy it is totally unacceptable to literally hound somebody from elected office.”
Ms Ralph’s departure means a by-election to appoint her replacement on the council, which now has 10 independents, nine SNP councillors and three each for Labour and the Conservatives.
Moray’s local parliamentarians are appealing for any information that could help the police with their inquiries. They are also seeking an early update from the Grampian Chief Constable to discuss progress in the case.
Moray MP Angus Robertson said:
“It is crucial that the police receive all potential evidence to apprehend whoever has behind this appalling campaign. If anybody knows anything please can they contact the police. This bullying and stalking must be stopped.
“I wish Carolle and her family all the best at this difficult time. Lossiemouth, Burghead, Hopeman, Duffus and the whole ward have lost an excellent, democratically elected representative.”
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said:
“Carolle has been a conscientious councillor for the whole of the Heldon and Laich ward and it is contemptible that she has been the target of this stalking campaign. I would like to pay tribute to her and her family who have been going through sheer hell.
“She is a friend and a valued colleague whom I respect tremendously. Every effort should be made to help the police with their inquiries and I look forward to an update from the Chief Constable on progress in the case.”
A Grampian Police spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that we have received a complaint and that we are making inquiries.”