A POLITICIAN who used his council-issued mobile phone to rack up a £2,400 bill calling premium rate sex chat lines and sending sexually explicit texts has escaped the sack.
Tyldesley councillor Robert Bleakley, a member of the Wigan Independents, was caught after Wigan Council reviewed its mobile phone contract and found he had spent £2,418.95 at taxpayers’ expense, sparking an investigation.
A council standards committee was told that, as well as calling sex chat lines, Cllr Bleakley had sent sexist and derogatory texts, including one saying: “No wonder women are just cooking and washing material”.
He also sent a message calling ex-Lib Dem activist Alison Smith an offensive name.
More were read to the panel, which Cllr Bleakley did not attend, but are too foul-mouthed and sexually explicit to print.
Wigan Council has now instructed its female employees not to speak to him, and Cllr Bleakley has had his mobile phone removed and been ordered to attend equal opportunities training.
It is the third time Cllr Bleakley has been subject to a standards hearing, after he was found guilty of deliberately altering an e-mail to jeopardise a senior employee’s job in February, and found to have watched porn on his council-issued laptop in March.
Donna Hall, chief executive of Wigan Council, said she was "appalled and sickened" with the language used in the text messages.
She said: “It is quite clear, judging by the content of Cllr Bleakley’s text messages, that he has a problem with women.
“I will not tolerate this prejudice, nor will I allow him to come into contact with female officers until he has undertaken equal opportunities training."
The panel agreed that Cllr Bleakley had broken the council’s IT policy and breached the councillors' code of conduct.
She added: “As a result, Cllr Bleakley was given a number of sanctions, including the removal of his IT equipment, including his mobile phone, and removal of his internet access.
"He must also undergo equal opportunities training, and female officers will be instructed not to speak to him."