Hereford city councillors have voted to report a colleague for an email she inadvertently sent that was highly unflattering about some of them.

Coun Diana Toynbee, who is a county and city councillor for the Greens and also the party’s parliamentary candidate for Hereford and South Herefordshire, sent the message to party colleagues following May’s local elections, which saw several city councillors, all but one a Liberal Democrat, newly elected also to Herefordshire Council.

But one of the councillors concerned was accidently copied in. And now the councillors say that as Coun Toynbee has not apologised to them in the six months since, they will take the matter up with Herefordshire Council’s monitoring officer, in charge of upholding councillors’ codes of conduct in the county.


Passing the move at a full meeting of Hereford city council on Tuesday night (November 14), several spoke of their anger.

Coun Rob Owen, called “shifty and cynical” in the email, said: “She did send a follow-up message, but I don’t consider it an apology – it just gave excuses and said, ‘you shouldn’t have read it’.”

Previous city mayor Coun Mark Dykes said Coun Toynbee, absent from the meeting, “hasn’t the courage to come to full council, or the integrity to apologise”. Backing the motion to escalate the matter, he said: “I want to see her squirm.”

Deputy city mayor Coun Kevin Tillett said the Greens’ leader in the county Ellie Chowns had by contrast “apologised immediately” for the email, whereas Coun Toynbee “has simply carried on being collegiate with colleagues she has grossly insulted”.

He added that current city mayor Jacqui Cowardine, also mentioned in the email, “has the right to expect complete support of the council”.

But Jeremy Milln, the lone Green councillor in Coun Toynbee’s absence, said: “This is regrettable. But six months have elapsed and it should have been addressed at the time. She says she has apologised, so we should move on.”

He and two other non-LibDem councillors abstained from the vote on the motion, which was otherwise supported.

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Coun Toynbee had earlier told the town clerk Steve Kerry: “Comments made in private don’t bring the council into disrepute,” and said she had offered to meet anyone concerned about the email.

She later added: “It’s very sad to see a council meeting being used like this.

“It should not be a place for personal retribution, and this motion is of no benefit to Hereford.”