Ex-councillor's fury at 'heavy-handed' raid and arrest

Peter Franzen
Peter Franzen
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Police have raided the house of a former Wigan Council opposition leader amid claims of harassing the town hall’s chief executive.

One-time Community Action Party chief Peter Franzen accused officers of using “intimidating” tactics more befitting terror suspects after they used a battering ram to smash open a security gate before arresting him.

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The 69-year-old says he was quizzed at Wigan Police HQ over allegations that he rifled through the bins at Donna Hall’s house and slashed her vehicle tyres in a town centre car park.

The Golborne pensioner says he “vigorously denies” all these “nonsensical” claims, although he admits posting comments about Ms Hall on a social media site with which she and the police have also taken issue as it often hosts material critical of the council.

Mr Franzen said: “I am still quite shocked at the level of force that was used.

“It was all very intimidating. I can only assume the whole thing was intended to frighten me.

“I was quite shocked to be told they had received a complaint of harassment. I was then asked what I knew about a number of other things.

“The only thing I admit is posting comments on Facebook, three at the most, involving information which is in the public domain and is a matter of public interest.

“The other allegations are completely nonsensical. I’ve never been near her house, I wouldn’t know how to get there and I don’t even have a car.

“I know absolutely nothing about bins being rifled. Given that when I was a councillor we were all provided with shredders and told about the importance of using them I don’t know why anyone would go and look through her bins.

“The last time I was anywhere near Wigan Council’s car park in the town centre was years ago when I was a councillor. I would also expect it to be bristling with CCTV cameras so my question over the tyre slashing would be: what does the footage reveal?

“I’ve never damaged anyone’s car in my life. The whole thing doesn’t seem to have much credibility to me.”

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed a 69-year-old man had been arrested last Friday on suspicion of stalking.

This followed a report of harrassment being received by the force on Monday November 13 last year.

Police said the man has been released under investigation and enquiries are ongoing.

The Observer contacted Wigan Council but the town hall would not comment, saying it was a police matter.