Tory leader made nuisance calls to husband's ex-wife

(First Edition)

THE TORY group leader on Edinburgh District Council made nuisance telephone calls to her husband's former wife, the city's sheriff court was told yesterday.

Christine Richard, 49, of Braids Hill Approach, Edinburgh, admitted making six calls from her home and the council chambers or elsewhere in Edinburgh to Lady Angela Buchan-Hepburn and her family at the Garden House, Kailzie, Peebles, between 17 January and 5 April this year.

David Stewart, for the defence, had asked the court for an absolute discharge which would have meant no record of the offence being left on record. But sentencing Richard, Sheriff Isobel Poole said she had to balance the councillor's previous good record against the upset caused.

She told Richard that an absolute discharge was not appropriate. The maximum penalty for the offence was a pounds 400 fine, but the sheriff said that in the circumstances, she would admonish the Tory leader. This means there is no penalty but a note of the offence and conviction is left on the record.

Isabel Clark, Depute-Fiscal, said Lady Buchan-Hepburn and John Richard - the accused's husband - were divorced in the early 1970s and there had been 'some unpleasantness' between them.

The court was told that Lady Buchan-Hepburn received nuisance telephone calls between January and April this year, but the caller said nothing and hung up.

On 5 April, Lady Buchan-Hepburn received a similar call but left her receiver off the hook. The call was traced and Richard's voice was heard at the other end and identified by Lady Buchan-Hepburn.

There were said to have been about half a dozen telephone calls made during the period, some of which were traced to Richard's home and others to the Conservative group room in the Edinburgh council chambers.

When questioned by police Richard, a Justice of the Peace, admitted making the calls, but claimed she had said nothing.

Mr Stewart said relations between the two women 'were not of the best', but he claimed it had been his client's intention to speak each time she called about family business, although she found she was unable to talk when she telephoned.

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