Second complaint made about councillor linked to conspiracy protests

A second complaint has been made about a Liverpool city councillor over her alleged role in a protest about conspiracy theories.

This summer, a series of demonstrations were held outside Liverpool Town Hall as activists gathered to make their voices heard about the implementation of a new plan creating 13 new administrative areas across the city to improve access to public services. One of the demonstrations was attended by a former Liverpool FC player who claimed governments were planning to “bring down everything.”

Cllr Mirna Juarez, Liberal Democrat member for Much Woolton and Hunts Cross, was criticised for advocating for the activists to be allowed to speak when they attended the council’s sustainable, safe and thriving neighbourhoods committee and claimed she was being made a “scapegoat” after a complaint was made about her.

Now, it can be confirmed a second councillor has raised a formal issue with Cllr Juarez’ alleged conduct.

After a first complaint was made by committee chair Cllr Joe Hanson that she “verbally attacked” the Labour member during July’s meeting, the Liberal Democrat councillor could also face further sanction amid issues being raised about her presence at a second demonstration held in September. 

Demonstrators were situated on opposite sides of Water Street in tense scenes before a meeting of the full Liverpool Council. Banners and placards were held aloft while both sides chanted across the road. Activists, including former Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert, equipped with banners, sought to air their grievances over widely debunked theories around 15-minute cities and how the new 13 neighbourhood areas across Liverpool would infringe on their civil liberties.

Cllr Helen Avis, Labour member for Fazakerley North, on behalf of her group on the city council has written to officials alleging Cllr Juarez was “hugging one of the protestors and turning to smirk at all the councillors stood in front of the Town Hall.”

Cllr Avis’ complaint added, “Cllr Juarez, as a member of the neighbourhoods committee over the last 12 months, should be aware of the neighbourhoods model but for a second time joined with the protestors, adding fuel to their theories which have been widely debunked. 

“Having a member of this council standing with them implies their theories have some credibility. This is not acceptable and places members of all parties at risk.”

In communication seen by the LDRS, Cllr Juarez said it was “not clear from the complaint as to which part of the code of conduct I have allegedly breached.” She added, “While making my way to the Town Hall I spoke to members of the public who were in attendance at both of the protests.  

“I know other elected members did exactly the same and treated all of the members of the public who were outside the Town Hall on that day fairly, including my colleague who I understand has not been the subject of a complaint in the way I have.”

Speaking to the LDRS in September, Cllr Juarez, who has served across two stints since 2012, denied supporting some of the more extreme views espoused by the groups. She said, “I’m not a conspiracy theorist but governments and councils need to do more to clarify things so people don’t get carried away with conspiracy theories.”

Responding to the fresh complaint being made, Cllr Carl Cashman, leader of the Liverpool Liberal Democrats, said, “This recent attack stems from Labour councillors not liking the fact that Mirna has spoken to protestors outside the Town Hall. The last time I checked the council’s code of conduct there was nothing in it that mentioned that you can’t speak to people that you might disagree with. In fact, that is an important part of our democracy. 

“The question must be asked, why are the Labour Party picking on Mirna in particular? One of our other Councillors, Pat Moloney, also spoke to protestors. Where is the outrage and complaint about him? Their complaints, which pertains to Mirna being abusive towards fellow  councillors, are completely unfounded. In fact, video footage of the night of the incident is clear and Mirna is not abusive in the slightest.”

Cllr Cashman added, “I urge Labour councillors to reflect on the inequitable way in which they have made these petty complaints and get on with their jobs.”

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