Councillor apologises for telling a colleague 'just imagine him naked' at a planning meeting

Councillor Linda Cowling claimed she was just passing on some of Winston Churchill's public speaking advice

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Indy Politics

A Conservative councillor in North Yorkshire has apologised after she was recorded telling a colleague: "Just imagine him with no clothes on".

Cllr Linda Cowling, leader of Ryedale District Council and councillor for the Pickering west ward, was caught on tape whispering to a colleague: "Just imagine him with no clothes on," during a council planning meeting.

The colleague, Cllr Janet Frank, then replies: "Oh God, I would rather not."

The short exchange was caputred on the audio recording of the meeting, which was posted to the council's website - and later removed after the comment was discovered.


Cllr Cowling has said she was not referring to another councillor, Eric Hope, and instead insisted that she was trying to calm the nerves of Cllr Frank.

In a statement, Ms Cowling said: "I very much regret the incident and apologise for any embarassment it has caused to Councillor Hope and his family."

"Many years ago some of us underwent training on public speaking. We were told that if we were very nervous that a trick was to imagine your audience with no clothes on - a tip attributed to Winston Churchill."

She said she used Churchill's tip to calm down Cllr Frank, who was nervous about speaking at the meeting.

Cowling denied she was talking about Cllr Eric Hope when she made her comment

After the comment gathered attention in the local and national press, the council released a picture of the three smiling councillors.

Cllr Cowling said it was "appalling" that a local journalist could turn a "few words into a full page stor containing so much innuendo."

Speaking to the Gazette and Herald, other councillors, who were not named, said they believed that Cllr Cowling had been speaking about councillor John Clark, who had asked a series of "convoluted questions about planning" at the meeting.

Speaking to the paper, Cllr Clark said: "I was elected to the council to ask awkard questions and that was in our election material in a prominent place."

"I am not to be treated as a sex object, despite my looks and physique."

He said that councillors Cowling and Frank were not able to answer questions on important issues at the meeting, and said that both should consider their positions.