Mayor of Oxford censured for 'sexy' comment to girl, 13

Oxford Mail: Lord Mayor of Oxford Alan Armitage Lord Mayor of Oxford Alan Armitage

OXFORD’S Lord Mayor has been censured for making an “inappropriate and disrespectful” remark to a schoolgirl.

An investigation was launched after it was claimed Alan Armitage told a 13-year-old girl “It’s sexy when you bend down like that” at a sporting event in Iffley Road last June.

Almost nine months later, the city council’s standards committee met at the Town Hall yesterday and agreed Mr Armitage had breached the councillors’ code of conduct.

The committee felt his behaviour brought both the position of the Lord Mayor and the city council into disrepute.

Yesterday the committee found it was “highly probable” the Liberal Democrat councillor for North ward did make an inappropriate comment to a member of an under-13 sports team.

However, councillors on the committee said there was “no reason” why Mr Armitage should not continue with the full range of his mayoral duties.

The public and press were barred from the hearing, as councillors decided his fate.

Afterwards, the council issued a decision notice which said: “The committee considered the remark was inappropriate and disrespectful.

“The committee decided that Councillor Armitage should be censured for the breach of the code.”

Mr Armitage disputes the version of events in the report by independent investigator Richard Penn, and says he intends to continue his duties as Lord Mayor.

Mr Penn’s report says he interviewed Mr Armitage on October 10 last year and the Lord Mayor accepted that he may have used the word ‘sexy’, but felt the word was now used in common parlance to describe “lots of things”.

“I regret the whole thing very much,” he told the Oxford Mail after attending the hearing, which included evidence from a number of witnesses.

“But there is no single version of what was said that was endorsed by all the witnesses.

“I am absolutely sure I did not say ‘bending’ because in the context it is an inappropriate word to use.

“I think it is very unlikely that I said the word ‘sexy’, and that is what I have said all along, but in any case I do not believe it (the word) has any sexual connotation.

“I think it is very unlikely that I would have used the word ‘sexy’ to a 13-year-old girl, but I cannot remember exactly how the repartee went.

“It was a confused, rowdy event, with a lot of people wanting a photo.

“I may have said something like ‘best if you stand next to me’ and that could have been misheard as containing the words ‘bending’ and ‘sexy’. However, I don’t believe the girls lied.”

The hearing was held behind closed doors on the basis the schoolgirl and other witnesses could not be identified, and that it was “not in the public interest” and following advice from Jeremy Thomas, the council’s head of law and governance.

Last night Jean Fooks, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group, said: “We will now look at the report in full to consider whether any disciplinary action should be taken.”

City council leader Bob Price was unavailable for comment.

The county council issued a statement saying it “noted” the decision about Mr Armitage, who is also a county councillor for West Central Oxford.

It earlier investigated the incident as a child protection matter and concluded that Mr Armitage did not represent a risk to children.

Comments (12)

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11:07am Thu 28 Feb 13

norton manor says...

I really do believe that cllr Armitage has brought the ancient and respective office of Lord Mayor of Oxford into disrepute and that he should be relieved of his office and removed from the Council. He should also be barred from using "former Lord Mayor" a slap on the wrist as a punishment is an insult to Oxford City residents who he is representing by hold this office
I really do believe that cllr Armitage has brought the ancient and respective office of Lord Mayor of Oxford into disrepute and that he should be relieved of his office and removed from the Council. He should also be barred from using "former Lord Mayor" a slap on the wrist as a punishment is an insult to Oxford City residents who he is representing by hold this office norton manor
  • Score: 4

12:17pm Thu 28 Feb 13

disgruntled2 says...

How can he say the word sexy does not have any sexual connotation? It is an adjective, pertaining to the word sex or sexual.
He comes across as either a liar or an idiot. A perfect example of local government I suppose.
How can he say the word sexy does not have any sexual connotation? It is an adjective, pertaining to the word sex or sexual. He comes across as either a liar or an idiot. A perfect example of local government I suppose. disgruntled2
  • Score: 6

12:35pm Thu 28 Feb 13

bart-on simpson says...

Mayors largely an expense without much worth.

Please name the councillors on the committee who did nothing.
Mayors largely an expense without much worth. Please name the councillors on the committee who did nothing. bart-on simpson
  • Score: 4

12:49pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Simon33 says...

What's with these sleazy Liberal Democrats?

What an amazing Code of Conduct the Oxford Council must have!
What's with these sleazy Liberal Democrats? What an amazing Code of Conduct the Oxford Council must have! Simon33
  • Score: 4

1:05pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Madi50n says...

I'm sorry, but a man of his age saying to a 13 year-old girl:

“It’s sexy when you bend down like that”

Is extremely inappropriate, and I can think of no reason why he should not stand down or be forced to stand down.

She was THIRTEEN years old, how on earth could he have thought that it was appropriate to say that to her?

If that had been my daughter I think I'd have been asking him to his face what he thought he was doing.

It is disgusting that someone in this position can get away with this.
I'm sorry, but a man of his age saying to a 13 year-old girl: “It’s sexy when you bend down like that” Is extremely inappropriate, and I can think of no reason why he should not stand down or be forced to stand down. She was THIRTEEN years old, how on earth could he have thought that it was appropriate to say that to her? If that had been my daughter I think I'd have been asking him to his face what he thought he was doing. It is disgusting that someone in this position can get away with this. Madi50n
  • Score: 4

1:24pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Bicester1962 says...

What on earth are they messing about at, this person should not be allowed to remain in his role under any circumstances. If he worked in private industry he would have been sacked!
What on earth are they messing about at, this person should not be allowed to remain in his role under any circumstances. If he worked in private industry he would have been sacked! Bicester1962
  • Score: 4

2:40pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Geoff Roberts says...

“I may have said something like ‘best if you stand next to me’ and that could have been misheard as containing the words ‘bending’ and ‘sexy’.

Riiiight. Sure you did.
“I may have said something like ‘best if you stand next to me’ and that could have been misheard as containing the words ‘bending’ and ‘sexy’. Riiiight. Sure you did. Geoff Roberts
  • Score: 4

3:07pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Feelingsmatter says...

"However, councillors on the committee said there was “no reason” why Mr Armitage should not continue with the full range of his mayoral duties. " I'm sorry, but are they mad, corrupt or irresponsibly naive? With the disgusting failure of authorities to protect young girls in the disgrace that is "Bullfinch" I would have thought that Oxfordshire would be extra-cautious. Sadly, now I'm beginning to see how it happened with such apparent ease. Shocking.
"However, councillors on the committee said there was “no reason” why Mr Armitage should not continue with the full range of his mayoral duties. " I'm sorry, but are they mad, corrupt or irresponsibly naive? With the disgusting failure of authorities to protect young girls in the disgrace that is "Bullfinch" I would have thought that Oxfordshire would be extra-cautious. Sadly, now I'm beginning to see how it happened with such apparent ease. Shocking. Feelingsmatter
  • Score: 4

7:21am Fri 1 Mar 13

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

Kevin Webster Iffley Fields wrote:
Feelingsmatter wrote:
"However, councillors on the committee said there was “no reason” why Mr Armitage should not continue with the full range of his mayoral duties. " I'm sorry, but are they mad, corrupt or irresponsibly naive? With the disgusting failure of authorities to protect young girls in the disgrace that is "Bullfinch" I would have thought that Oxfordshire would be extra-cautious. Sadly, now I'm beginning to see how it happened with such apparent ease. Shocking.
Best we lock up Jamie Oliver for life then, because he uses that term all the time. If Mr Mayor had done anything even remotely obscene towards a minor the the police would have come down on him like a ton of bricks, do you not realise that. I heard his interview today, and it is a stitch up by a bunch of pre-pubescent girls that thought it would be a laugh. And for you to bring in Bullfinch just shows the intelligence of the general public these days.
Can't say I have ever heard Jamie Oliver refer to a 13 year old girl in this way.

There was obviously a case to be answered and it has been, he has been found at fault so should be removed from office immediately.
[quote][p][bold]Kevin Webster Iffley Fields[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Feelingsmatter[/bold] wrote: "However, councillors on the committee said there was “no reason” why Mr Armitage should not continue with the full range of his mayoral duties. " I'm sorry, but are they mad, corrupt or irresponsibly naive? With the disgusting failure of authorities to protect young girls in the disgrace that is "Bullfinch" I would have thought that Oxfordshire would be extra-cautious. Sadly, now I'm beginning to see how it happened with such apparent ease. Shocking.[/p][/quote]Best we lock up Jamie Oliver for life then, because he uses that term all the time. If Mr Mayor had done anything even remotely obscene towards a minor the the police would have come down on him like a ton of bricks, do you not realise that. I heard his interview today, and it is a stitch up by a bunch of pre-pubescent girls that thought it would be a laugh. And for you to bring in Bullfinch just shows the intelligence of the general public these days.[/p][/quote]Can't say I have ever heard Jamie Oliver refer to a 13 year old girl in this way. There was obviously a case to be answered and it has been, he has been found at fault so should be removed from office immediately. Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: 4

10:45am Fri 1 Mar 13

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

“My county council position is up for election and I have not yet decided whether to continue and fight it in May. I have not heard from anyone that I ought to be resigning.' (Taken from yet another OM story on the subject not allowing comments)

Mr Armitage, you ought to be resigning.
“My county council position is up for election and I have not yet decided whether to continue and fight it in May. I have not heard from anyone that I ought to be resigning.' (Taken from yet another OM story on the subject not allowing comments) Mr Armitage, you ought to be resigning. Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: 3

7:28pm Fri 1 Mar 13

telecaster says...

' Kevin Webster ' eh? What a jolly japester you are.
' Kevin Webster ' eh? What a jolly japester you are. telecaster
  • Score: 4

10:44am Sat 2 Mar 13

Feelingsmatter says...

Kevin Webster Iffley Fields wrote:
Feelingsmatter wrote:
"However, councillors on the committee said there was “no reason” why Mr Armitage should not continue with the full range of his mayoral duties. " I'm sorry, but are they mad, corrupt or irresponsibly naive? With the disgusting failure of authorities to protect young girls in the disgrace that is "Bullfinch" I would have thought that Oxfordshire would be extra-cautious. Sadly, now I'm beginning to see how it happened with such apparent ease. Shocking.
Best we lock up Jamie Oliver for life then, because he uses that term all the time. If Mr Mayor had done anything even remotely obscene towards a minor the the police would have come down on him like a ton of bricks, do you not realise that. I heard his interview today, and it is a stitch up by a bunch of pre-pubescent girls that thought it would be a laugh. And for you to bring in Bullfinch just shows the intelligence of the general public these days.
I'm sorry, but I think you've missed out on the one of the biggest tragedies in Oxfordshire over the past two years. In Bullfinch Police officers bullied one girl into dropping her rape allegation, care workers KNEW that girls from their home were being abused, and you think that has no bearing on this story? It's about public authorities having no interest in protecting our children, and you fail to mention that in his statement the Mayor at no point whole-heartedly denies saying it, he can't he can't remember saying it. Not only that, he offered two "similar" sentences which he said could have sounded like what he is alleged to have said. I think you're deluded if you really think that Jamie Oliver has ever said anything about sexiness to a child; and you doubt MY intelligence.
[quote][p][bold]Kevin Webster Iffley Fields[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Feelingsmatter[/bold] wrote: "However, councillors on the committee said there was “no reason” why Mr Armitage should not continue with the full range of his mayoral duties. " I'm sorry, but are they mad, corrupt or irresponsibly naive? With the disgusting failure of authorities to protect young girls in the disgrace that is "Bullfinch" I would have thought that Oxfordshire would be extra-cautious. Sadly, now I'm beginning to see how it happened with such apparent ease. Shocking.[/p][/quote]Best we lock up Jamie Oliver for life then, because he uses that term all the time. If Mr Mayor had done anything even remotely obscene towards a minor the the police would have come down on him like a ton of bricks, do you not realise that. I heard his interview today, and it is a stitch up by a bunch of pre-pubescent girls that thought it would be a laugh. And for you to bring in Bullfinch just shows the intelligence of the general public these days.[/p][/quote]I'm sorry, but I think you've missed out on the one of the biggest tragedies in Oxfordshire over the past two years. In Bullfinch Police officers bullied one girl into dropping her rape allegation, care workers KNEW that girls from their home were being abused, and you think that has no bearing on this story? It's about public authorities having no interest in protecting our children, and you fail to mention that in his statement the Mayor at no point whole-heartedly denies saying it, he can't he can't remember saying it. Not only that, he offered two "similar" sentences which he said could have sounded like what he is alleged to have said. I think you're deluded if you really think that Jamie Oliver has ever said anything about sexiness to a child; and you doubt MY intelligence. Feelingsmatter
  • Score: 4

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