Mystery over future of Weston Coyney councillor Matt Fry after fraud caution
CONFUSION surrounds the future of a city councillor who was cautioned by police for fraud after the Labour party refused to discuss the case – or even confirm if he remains suspended.
Councillor Matt Fry, right, was cautioned for fraud by abuse of position after being arrested and interviewed by Staffordshire Police.
He was suspended from representing the Labour party at any level 11 days ago, pending the outcome of police inquiries.
But the Stoke-on-Trent Labour group has refused to discuss his future or reveal any details about the nature of his offence.
The Sentinel has attempted to seek clarity over Mr Fry's future as a councillor from leader Mohammed Pervez, group whip Kath Banks, group chairman Tom Reynolds and the Labour party at West Midlands regional level.
None have responded to requests for comment.
Mr Fry, who represents Weston Coyney on Stoke-on-Trent City Council, has also declined to comment on several occasions.
It means residents are left to continue speculating about the reasons for Mr Fry's caution and mystery surrounds his role on the city council.
Mr Fry aged 32, of Parkfield Road, in Dresden, is also a member of Staffordshire Fire Authority.
He is regularly involved in charitable projects – including helping to raise funds and organise the Staffordshire Special Olympics.
Sue Bourne, secretary of Weston Coyney Residents' Association, said: "It would be helpful for us to know if he is still a councillor.
"I think people have a right to know what has happened because it might well affect how they view him and how they would approach him as a councillor.
"It may well be something very small and innocuous, in which case why keep it to themselves? By not talking about it people will just think the worst."
Councillor Dave Conway, below, leader of the opposition City Independents group, called for a full explanation.
He said: "We don't even know what he has actually done.
"If it were a member of my group I would be honest about it. There should be nothing to hide.
"It's no good for councillors of any party to talk about being open and transparent, then just close ranks if something goes wrong."
Stoke-on-Trent City Council said the offence does not relate directly to Mr Fry's role as a councillor and his right to continue in the role has not been affected by the caution. Police yesterday offered assurances they had taken the investigation seriously.
A spokesman said: "When someone is arrested they are dealt with according to a number of factors which all have to be taken into consideration, including offending history and evidential criteria.
"For example, if someone has no previous convictions they may be issued with a caution which ultimately will give them a criminal record. Staffordshire Police takes reports of fraud very seriously and will carry out a thorough investigation when such crimes are reported."
A spokesman for Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: "The council can confirm that we are aware of Councillor Fry's caution by the police but this would not affect his right to continue his role as an elected member."