I REFER to the article in the Bury Times of September 21 concerning the letter by ex-Labour leader Councillor Mike Connolly to the courts that resulted in former councillor Simon Carter not receiving a custodial sentence.

In his comment, Cllr Connolly made certain statements concerning the availability of his letter in praise of Carter.

Yes, it is true that we were aware of the existence of the letter from September, 2015, but despite three individual FOI requests, the legal department at Bury Council rejected attempts to provide copies.

I attended a meeting with the then chief executive in November,2015, in which he told me he had implored Cllr Connolly to reveal the letter, but the then Labour leader had refused.

It also isn’t true that the letter was put in the public domain in July, 2017, by the Bourne report.

We were only treated to a short extract from the letter, but our demands to know if it had been written on Bury MBC paper and signed by Cllr Connolly as Leader of Bury Council were refused.

It was only the day after the council meeting of September 13, 2017, (two years after its presentation to the court) that we were finally allowed to see the letter in its entirety.

The question still remains that by August 21, 2015, when Cllr Connolly wrote the letter, he knew what Carter had done and his previous history and yet he provided a glowing reference to the courts.

We must therefore ask, what prompted Cllr Connolly to write such a letter. It is simple to say after the fact that in hindsight it was an error, but it probably saved Carter from prison.

Cllr Robert Caserta

Pilkington Park Ward