A FORMER employee of ex-Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood threatened “bomb scares” in a wave of far left intimidation that forced the cancellation of a Conservative Association dinner at the National Coal Mining Museum.
Labour Party activist Peter Ward, who lives in the Liversedge area, suggested targeting the caterers who eventually forced the cancellation of the event in March, saying they were concerned for the safety of their staff.
Commenting on a Facebook post in the name of Batley-based trade union activist Mark Martin, calling for a picket and demonstration at the museum, Ward wrote: “Sounds like a good night for bomb scares. What about contacting the firms who supply this catering outfit? Lots of scope for a fun event.”
Ward was a long-time assistant to Wood until they had a fall-out.
After caterers Asparagus Green said the campaign of threats and intimidation forced their hand, the museum’s board of directors – who had been prevented from cancelling the booking by the terms of their charitable status – jumped at the chance to call the dinner off.
The Press can reveal that prominent members of the museum board are former Dewsbury and Mirfield Labour MP Baroness Ann Taylor, the former Labour leader of Kirklees Council Sir John Harman, current deputy leader of Wakefield’s Labour council Coun Denise Jeffery and Rother Valley Labour MP Kevin Barron.
Last year the museum had operating losses of almost £600,000 and reported a £1.5m pension fund deficit.
In her annual report, board chairwoman Denise Jeffery said: “The museum faces challenging factors both within and outside its control as it works to achieve its objectives; largely related to fundraising and generating enough income to maintain the site.”
The owner of Asparagus Green said police were needed to guard the museum and patrol at his home after threats were made to both himself and staff, following news of the planned dinner.
This week Dewsbury County Conservative Association chairman Mark Eastwood said: “Let’s be clear, this is not a victory for the miners, this is a victory for mindless thuggery and intimidation, aided and abetted by Labour politicians.
“People will remember that the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, called for the guest speaker, Esther McVey MP, to be ‘lynched’ in 2015. The use of violent language by senior Labour politicians has encouraged this state of affairs.
“(Dewsbury Labour MP) Paula Sherriff should have been condemning attempts to prevent a legitimate organisation from using publicly-funded conference facilities ... this shows a contempt for democracy and she should rightly be condemned for this.”
In response, Miss Sherriff said: “I unequivocally condemn anyone making threats of violence as this is wholly unacceptable.
“The reality is this – my only comment published on this matter was printed in The Press after the event was cancelled by the museum.
“Anyone saying otherwise is only trying to divert from the embarrassment caused to the Dewsbury Conservative Party.
“Their choice of venue, as well as the date selected, caused unsurprising offence to those who still feel strongly about the injustice done to miners and their communities.”