Paul Michael Buckley – known as  Mike Buckley – Saddleworth 

​Minister now considering Buckley case.

A SADDLEWORTH woman campaigning to have a shamed councillor removed from office, is “encouraged” by a response from a top government minister.

Holly Wood, who is appealing to Cllr Mike Buckley to step down from the parish council, says she plans to take soundings from villagers in Dobcross and Diggle.

Councillor Buckley was found guilty of downloading indecent images of naked boys on his computer, in December 2015.

Since then, there has been a determined effort to remove him from office.

Ms Wood met Marcus Jones, now minister for local government, with a delegation of parish councillors and Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.

Now, she has received a letter from the minister in which he says he is “very concerned” about Buckley.

He says: “The public rightly expect high standards from elected members and where that behaviour falls short of these expectations, it erodes public trust in local democracy.

“I am giving this matter very careful consideration. Particularly, considering not only how to address this issue, but how we might legislate for any changes once agreed, to bring any new measures into force.

“I will ensure you are kept up to date with developments,” he adds.

Today, Ms Wood said: “I am encouraged by Marcus Jones’ response to my continued communication in regards to amending the Localism Act 2011.

“I believe he understands the public’s concerns that anybody convicted can remain as a public figure.

“Cllr Mike Buckley is a convicted child sex offender. He is on the sex offenders register and has restraints on what he can and can’t do.

“What isn’t covered by the law is his removal from Saddleworth Parish Council, because he didn’t receive a custodial sentence of more than three months.

“This applies to any councillor – parish or local borough. As we all know, councillors do attend events where children are present.

“In the case of Cllr Buckley, as long as he is not left alone with a child, he can attend theses events.

“To the public, this is absolutely outrageous!” she declared.

“There are a few people who continue to state I am on a witch hunt with Cllr Mike Buckley.

“This is not the case,” she stressed. 

“I am trying to protect the children up and down this country who could still come into contact with convicted child sex offenders, all due to this loophole in the law. 

“I will continue to campaign for this change and I know eventually Cllr Mike Buckley will be removed from his position.

“His stance that he was democratically elected is correct, but this was prior to him being convicted.

“His arrogance to ignore the calls from his electorate, his colleagues and peers speaks volumes. Cllr Buckley hasn’t even apologised for his crime.

“My next step locally is to contact the residents of Dobcross and Diggle for their views, to see if we, his electorate, continue to support him.

“I believe this response will be overwhelming, but will Cllr Buckley listen?

“I highly doubt it, but if you are listening Cllr Buckley, please resign and allow Saddleworth to move on from this issue and concentrate on the good work Saddleworth Parish Council is doing, not your stance of digging your heels in, and believing we the public are wrong.”

Issues surrounding Cllr Buckley were raised again at this month’s parish council meeting.

Councillor convicted of downloading indecent images of children is still turning up to meetings

“I’ve walked out of meetings when he’s been there a couple of times. I’ve refused to sit around a committee table with him.”

Mike Buckley was convicted of 16 counts of downloading indecent photographs of children on his computer

A campaign is escalating to have a man convicted of downloading indecent images of children kicked off a council with community figures disgusted over his ‘brazen’ attitude as he continues attending meetings.

Residents and parish council members in Saddleworth have called for Paul Michael Buckley – known as Mike – to stand down after he was convicted of 16 charges of downloading indecent photographs of children on his computer.

Police found Coun Buckley, 68, had films showing the genitals of young boys in an orphanage. He avoided a prison sentence but was given a community order for 24 months and sent on a programme for sex offenders.

Following Coun Buckley’s sentence in January, Coun Neil Allsopp, former chair of the council, said it was ‘inappropriate’ for him to continue serving in his role as an independent councillor, representing Dobcross and Diggle.

But Coun Buckley, who was re-elected in May 2015 for four years, has insisted he will continue to serve his ward. When he was convicted in last December, he refused to ‘enter into a sparring match’ with other members.

Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams called for a change in the law earlier this year to ensure those convicted of a child sex offences cannot serve on a council.

MP Debbie Abrahams says people convicted of child sex offences should not be allowed to serve on councils

Councils cannot disqualify those convicted of child sex offences if their punishment is less than a three-month suspended jail sentence.

Buckley denied wrongdoing but a jury found him guilty of 16 charges of downloading indecent images of children at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court.

He was put on supervision for 24 months, placed on a curfew for 28 days between 8am and 4pm, and put on the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years, as well as given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for five years.

He was also ordered to pay £2,000 costs.

Some Saddleworth parish councillors are now considering calling for a referendum, with every member having to be re-elected. They think it is the only way Independent Coun Buckley could be legitimately forced out.

Councillors Stephen Hewitt, Nicola Kirkham and Katrina Roman walked out of the council’s latest full meeting on Monday evening, disgusted with Coun Buckley’s continued attendance.

Coun Hewitt told the M.E.N.: “He presumes people will just forget about it because there’s not much we can do to remove him from the council.

“I’ve walked out of meetings when he’s been there a couple of times. I’ve refused to sit around a committee table with him.”

In September, councillors Hewitt and Kirkham refused to take to the chamber at Uppermill’s civic hall after Coun Buckley turned up. Councillors Jamie Curley and Robert Knotts joined them.

In a statement, they said the ‘convicted child sex offender has not shown any remorse for his behaviour.

Coun Buckley refused to comment when approached by the M.E.N.
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