THE gathering of mourners outside the John Radcliffe Hospital are usually sombre affairs but a dispute has broken out between two well-known community leaders.

John Kelly, the former emergency planning officer at Oxfordshire County Council, complained to Oxford City Council’s standards committee about Lord Mayor Elise Benjamin’s manner towards him, her clothing and that she went to a repatriation ceremony in September on a bicycle.

The complaint was thrown out but last night peace had not yet broken out.

Mr Kelly alleged the Mayor approached him at the repatriation on September 8 of Sergeant Barry Weston over comments he made about her in the Oxford Mail in July.

He had questioned why the self-described “peace campaigner” had not attended the Headley Way, Headington, repatriations more regularly.

Ms Benjamin denied her no-show was political, citing family and work commitments, but vowed to attend more.

A council report says of his latest complaint: “The complainant alleges that the subject member behaved inappropriately by the manner in which she addressed the complainant at the ceremony.

“It is claimed that the subject member ‘berated’ the complainant for complaining to the media about her previous non-attendance at repatriation ceremonies in a ‘harassing and strident’ tone which disrupted the solemn occasion.

“The complainant then goes on to claim that the subject member’s attire and arrival by cycle was not appropriate to the event.”

Mr Kelly, 65, told the Oxford Mail Ms Benjamin was wearing “scruffy” clothing that looked like a “boiler suit”.

“Impeccable” dress was required and was worn by other civic leaders such as the chairman Oxfordshire County Council, said the Headington resident.

The retired emergency planning officer added: “She wasn’t properly dressed for such a solemn occasion.

“I also felt she should use the Mayoral car, which you and I pay for.”

Yet Mrs Benjamin denied his version of events and the Oxford City Council case ended after she agreed to “avoid directly approaching the complainant at any such future event”.

A council panel said her dress and use of a cycle “did not merit” further investigation.

Mr Kelly wants to appeal the decision about her alleged comments to him.

Ms Benjamin said: “I didn’t make the (alleged comments). It is as simple as that. I had a brief conversation.”

She said of the bicycle and clothing complaint: “The fact it was given no merit and not investigated says it all.

“I sometimes wear a black beret when I’m cycling.

“I know quite a lot of service personnel wear berets and it seemed right. My outfits sometimes depend on where I’ve been beforehand or what I have to go to afterwards. But I always make sure I look neat.

And she said of her transport: “Everywhere I go people say it is fantastic you are on your bike. It is saving the council money.”