EXCLUSIVE By Staff Reporters
FORMER Dewsbury East Labour councillor Paul Kane tried to retract his surprise resignation from Kirklees Council the day before his tragic death, The Press can reveal.
Close friends of Mr Kane, who was found at his home in Bywell Close, Dewsbury, on Tuesday November 5, have spoken about the pressure he had been put under to resign by Labour ward colleagues Paul Moore and Eric Firth, and how he had considered leaving Labour and standing as an independent candidate.
The people, who spoke at length to Mr Kane in the hours before he died, asked for their identities to be kept private. A police file into the circumstances of his death is being prepared for the West Yorkshire Coroner but no date for an inquest has been set.
Relationships between the three Dewsbury East Labour members had been strained for months, with Moore and Firth – both former employees of disgraced Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik – understood to be pressing for the chance to replace Mr Kane, who had been in ill health.
In documents seen by The Press, then-councillor Kane said he had assured Moore that he would make an able replacement as and when the 2015 Kirklees mayor decided to step down. However Moore’s social media and personal text campaign to undermine him continued. And the pressure was ramped up after Eric Firth lost his seat to Independent Aleks Lukic last May.
One source told The Press: “Paul (Kane) felt he was getting the blame from Eric because he hadn’t been well enough to campaign for him in the May election.
“Moore was posting some pretty nasty stuff on social media and sending Paul texts including one that said he ‘knew people that crack heads’. Matters came to a head with more social media posts and Paul decided to go clear the air with him.”
On August 7 the long-serving councillor went to Chickenley Community Centre to speak to Moore, where he works as a community development worker. Mr Kane had been a trustee and treasurer at the centre until resigning abruptly in September 2018.
“Paul had been seriously ill and had open heart surgery,” said his friend. “He wasn’t well and went to talk to Moore about all the backbiting and plotting. But he was in no shape to be physically confronting a much younger man.”
Moore called the police and reported Mr Kane for threatening behaviour and assault, which the Labour veteran vehemently denied in his statement to them However police did not carry out the interview under caution until the end of October – the week before he died.
“He was terribly ashamed about the whole situation,” said his friend. “Here was a man who had given so much to the town being unjustly treated like a common criminal, and it was all the doing of someone he’d considered a colleague and friend.”
Another friend who spoke to Mr Kane on the night before his death said he was incredibly bitter. “He came out and said Moore, Firth and (Council leader) Shabir Pandor had it in for him.”
A number of friends and political colleagues reached out to Mr Kane after hearing of his sudden decision to resign. However few knew that he had tried to reverse that decision.
“On the day he sent in his resignation (Monday November 4) we talked about things and he had second thoughts,” said a colleague. “He wrote to Kirklees Council chief executive Jacqui Gedman and requested that his resignation be withdrawn. It was only a matter of a few hours. His request was refused.
“Paul had been very ill, they were all well aware of that, but this was their chance to get rid of him. And they did.”
Asked to comment about Mr Kane’s request to retract his resignation, Coun Pandor said: “At this moment in time my thought and prayers are with the family, it would be inappropriate to make any comments prior to the funeral and ahead of a Coroner’s inquiry.”
There was no response from Ms Gedman, Mr Firth or Mr Moore.
Paul Kane’s funeral is next Saturday (December 7) at Dewsbury Minster at 10.30am.