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Cllr Mike Whiting has been suspended from the Conservative Party after drink driving conviction

A Conservative county councillor who was convicted of drink driving has been suspended from the party.

Sheppey member Cllr Mike Whiting, 64, had the whip removed over a breach in the rules.

Cllrs Paul Cooper, centre, and Sarah Hudson, right, were unhappy at the KCC Tories’ decision to back Mike Whiting, left
Cllrs Paul Cooper, centre, and Sarah Hudson, right, were unhappy at the KCC Tories’ decision to back Mike Whiting, left

He was banned from the road for 17 months on March 19 after being caught at the wheel twice the legal limit in Sittingbourne last September.

Kent County Council chief whip Cllr Dylan Jeffrey said Cllr Whiting failed to inform the leadership he had been charged with a criminal offence, breaking national party guidelines.

Cllr Jeffrey said he only messaged himself and KCC leader Cllr Roger Gough once he had been convicted at Maidstone Magistrates Court.

He added: “We checked the rules about being charged with a criminal offence and because Mike hadn’t done so, he had not followed due process and we took the decision to suspend him, effectively indefinitely.”

If he applies to rejoin in the future, a majority of KCC group members will have to approve his application.

Initially, the leadership pledged support for Cllr Whiting, who is receiving treatment for cancer, sparking a massive back bench outcry from members.

They claimed the stance taken appeared to condone drink driving, although a fuller statement condemning Cllr Whiting’s actions was released later.

The earlier statement read: “It is a private and personal matter and he has the full support of myself and the leader (Cllr Roger Gough).”

Maidstone Tory county member Cllr Paul Cooper said at the time: “This is a serious criminal matter. I do genuinely sympathise with Mike Whiting and, of course, he needs to be supported.

“But drink driving and all its implications cannot be swept under the carpet – it needed to be addressed rather than ignored and I think the leadership got the judgement wrong in that early statement and it misjudged the mood of the public and party colleagues.”

Magistrates were told Cllr Whiting was suffering the effects of long Covid and a recent bowel cancer diagnosis when the offence was committed.

County Hall in Maidstone
County Hall in Maidstone

Cllr Whiting also sits as a Swale borough councillor for Queenborough, Halfway and Rushenden and is a former managing editor and photographer with the KM Group.

He admitted drink driving and having no insurance.

In court, barrister Samir Pasha, defending Cllr Whiting, of Rooks View, Bobbing, said his client deeply regretted the offences.

Mr Pasha told the bench: “He’s so remorseful, he never wanted to find himself on this side of the dock.

“He has devoted a lot of working years towards the public sector and to find himself here today, he is shameful and regretful.”

In addition to his cancer battle and long Covid issues, the court was told that in August 2020 he was also diagnosed with depression and has been prescribed temazepam and has had therapy sessions to help him cope.

Cllr Whiting declined to comment this morning (March 26).

He is now listed as an independent on the KCC website.

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