Council leader brands gay snub claims 'nonsense'

Image caption,
The council leader described Mr Gearing as "embittered"

Nottinghamshire County Council's leader has branded claims she snubbed a gay award winner "spurious and damaging".

Tony Gearing, organiser of the Young People of the Year (YOPEY) awards, said Kay Cutts refused to acknowledge joint winner Ian Campbell at a 2009 ceremony.

Mrs Cutts called the allegations "completely untrue" and said Mr Gearing was bitter the council had decided to run its own awards ceremony in future.

In response, Mr Gearing claimed the council leader was "distorting events".

Mr Campbell was voted Nottinghamshire's joint Young Person of the Year at the ceremony in December.

The Labour Party activist, who is now mayor of Retford, claimed Conservative councillor Mrs Cutts "looked shocked" and would not speak to him when he explained it was for his work combating bullying and homophobia in local schools.

The event's organiser Mr Gearing said she also refused to present the award or have her photograph taken with Mr Campbell.

He complained to Prime Minister David Cameron, who ordered an investigation and referred the matter to Conservative Party Chairman Baroness Warsi.

The party said an investigation had since exonerated the council leader, and that Mrs Cutts had refused to be photographed with the winner because he was a Labour activist.

Mrs Cutts said: "I made a welcome speech at the YOPEY event in December.

"I was not asked to present any of the awards, so to suggest that I refused to present an award is clearly nonsense.

Image caption,
Mr Campbell is angry that he was not consulted during the Conservatives' investigation

"Mr Gearing is obviously upset that the council has decided to fund its own awards in future.

"We wish to recognise a wider range of young people's achievements, including successes in sports, arts and music.

"It is a shame that embittered individuals with personal agendas choose to waste the time of busy people such as Baroness Warsi in this way."

Mr Gearing denied he was bitter and called the outcome of the Conservatives' investigation "astonishing and baffling". He said he planned to pursue the matter with Baroness Warsi.

Both he and Mr Campbell have complained that they were not consulted during the Tory inquiry.

Mr Gearing added: "I remain deeply disappointed that she [Mrs Cutts] refused to shake Ian's hand or to appear in photographs with him and the other winners on the night."

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