‘I did not threaten to stab anybody’ says seafront trader after investigation

The former chair of Southend’s Seafront Traders Association has insisted he did not threaten to stab the deputy leader of Southend Council when he sent an email with the councillor’s name scrawled across a stab vest.

The email circulated among several councillors was sent by seafront trader Paul Thompson and it included an image of a stab vest with the name “Ron” scrawled across it, as well as text reading “never know when you might need one”.

The name was in reference to the council’s deputy leader Councillor Ron Woodley and came days before a development committee meeting on the Seaway leisure complex – a planning issue that has caused several clashes between Mr Thompson and Cllr Woodley.

Essex Police launched an investigation into a “malicious email” but have now concluded the investigation with no further action being taken against Mr Thompson.

Mr Thompson said: “Essex Police have carried out a full investigation into the accusations made against me by the deputy leader of Southend Council. This investigation has concluded that Ron Woodley’s accusations were unfounded and no further action will be taken.

“I did not threaten him or any other councillor, I did not threaten to stab anybody and I did not send a malicious email. I did not intimidate any members of the development committee sitting on the Seaway application.”

He claimed he was “targeted” for speaking out against the Seaway plans.

Cllr Woodley said that while Mr Thompson may have seen the email as a joke, he had “overstepped the mark”.

He branded the email “despicable”.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter