POLICE have admitted they were wrong to issue a fixed penalty notice to a councillor who confronted a colleague at a civic dinner.

North Yorkshire Police launched an internal investigation after Richmondshire councillor John Blackie won an appeal against the reprimand.

The councillor was given the penalty notice after Councillor Melva Steckles accused him of verbally abusing her at the dinner in Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, in October 2008.

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However, Coun Blackie decided to challenge the penalty notice in court.

After a two-day trial at Northallerton Magistrates’ Court, he was found not guilty of using threatening and abusive behaviour towards Coun Steckles, who at the time was the leader of Richmondshire District Council and is the current deputy leader.

The internal investigation also cleared the force of showing political bias.

A statement from North Yorkshire Police said: “The detailed review found that Mr Blackie should have been interviewed or invited to provide his personal account of material events, prior to a decision being taken in respect of whether the case should be prosecuted or dealt with under the fixed penalty procedure.

The review also determined that it was inappropriate for the fixed penalty procedure to be used given the circumstances of the case involving Mr Blackie.

“However, the review found that Mr Blackie’s eventual prosecution in court was appropriately evidentially supported.”

The statement added that as a result of the review a number of improvements will be made to the force’s fixed penalty notice procedure.

Coun Blackie said last night he was “very pleased” at the outcome and added: “It represents a complete vindication of my concerns and is on top of the acquittal at the trial itself.

“I felt a deep sense of injustice, not only at being served the fixed penalty notice for what was a momentary altercation and nothing more, but also at not being interviewed and therefore being prevented from putting my side of the story.”

Coun Blackie said he was also pleased the review should ensure fixed penalty notices are not issued by the force in this way again.

He added: “An apology would have been nice, but I’m going to be more than satisfied that no one else in my position is going to have to suffer a similar injustice in the future.”

Coun Steckles said she did not wish to comment until she had time to study the police statement.