Essex

Southend council boss apologises to topless protester

Mark Sharp, Patsy Link and Sheena Walker wearing 'Scrap the Cabinet' T-shirts
Image caption Mark Sharp was topless for the council meeting after he was told to remove his T-shirt

A protester who sat topless during a council meeting after he was told to remove his T-shirt has been apologised to by the council chief executive.

Mark Sharp was told to take off his "Scrap The Cabinet" shirt before he could sit in on Southend Borough Council's public meeting on Thursday.

Chief executive Rob Tinlin emailed Mr Sharp to apologise and said security procedures would be reviewed.

Mr Sharp said he wanted the apology to be made in public.

Members of the Saxon King In Priory Park (SKIPP) group were asked to remove their T-shirts before being allowed into the meeting at the Civic Centre, where the council was discussing cuts to its budget.

'Full glare'

Mr Sharp had nothing else to wear so entered the public gallery topless, while two other members of the group wore coats.

The council had said previous meetings were disrupted by campaigners unveiling T-shirts with "derogatory" slogans.

In an email to Mr Sharp, Mr Tinlin said: "Please accept my apologies for the situation you found yourselves in.

"I have asked a senior member of my management group to deal with your complaint and to explore why this happened.

"I will also be personally reviewing the guidance for our facilities and security staff to avoid any similar circumstances in the future."

Replying to Mr Tinlin, Mr Sharp wrote: "Whilst we accept your apology and assurance that the matter will be investigated, we do think that as the incident occurred in the full glare of the public and media then it is appropriate that you make a public apology."

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