Police in Fife are investigating after at least eight female councillors were targeted by an abusive caller who made sexual remarks.
One councillor told the Press how she’d been left upset by the caller, who had offered to come round to her home.
At least seven others of all political parties from areas across Fife are known to have had a similar call at around 8pm last night, which came from a withheld number.
The caller claimed to be a male stripper who had been paid for by “a friend”, and in some cases had offered to go round to the councillor’s home expose himself or undertake sex acts.
With many Fife Councillors’ contact details and addresses available online, some councillors were left shaken by the incidents.
Councillor Mary Lockhart, who represents Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty, said: “The council phone rang, about 8pm in my case.
Although it said ‘private number’ I answered it, because some people’s numbers are withheld for good reason.
“The voice said ‘Hello Mary’. It was a Scottish voice with perhaps an almost northern English tinge to it.
“For a moment I thought it was a friend until he started to sing this tune. I knew it from somewhere but didn’t instantly recognise it.
“I kept saying ‘who is it?’
“He said ‘do you recognise that tune? It’s the stripper, and I’m your male stripper and a kind and generous friend has paid for me to come round and see you’.
“I said ‘no, can you stop the joke?’. By that time I was quite anxious.
“He said ‘are you up for it Mary? Are you ready for this?’.”
Cllr Lockhart hung up, but after posting about the incident on social media, found that a number of other colleagues received eerily similar calls.
“I came off the phone and I actually realised I was shaking. I was on my own, I was going to be on my own all night.
“He called me Mary Bain Lockhart – the only time people who call me that is on council-related matters, because that’s how I’m listed on the council’s website. My address is public, so he knows where I live.”
However, despite the scare, cllr Lockhart has no plans to hide her contact details.
“I thought it through, and I am not going to give in to some bully. I’m not going to have the people I represent less-able to get hold of me or going through hurdles to contact me when they need to, because some pervert or bully has decided that this is an amusing thing to do, or who simply wants to see a reaction
“It sounds almost as if it was read from a script, because when I spoke with Councillor Lea McLellan, who had an identical call.
“I know of eight councillors, including myself.
“I’ve been racking my brains to find out why would someone phone at least eight, or probably more Fife Councillors.
Councillor Lea McLelland, who also represents Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty, said when the caller offered sexual services, she chose to show that she wasn’t intimidated, and even managed to get the caller to hang up on her!
“I got a call at about 8.15pm, which I answered. I initially took it as comedy. It’ll be no surprise to anyone who knows me that HE hung up on ME. I was better at his game than him.
“He said a very generous friend had paid for his services, he offered a threesome. He said he was going to come round.”
The councillor managed to embarrass him into hanging up, and she was amused by the incident, but later found out that other women on the council had been targeted and intimidated.
“What changed my mind was seeing how it affected Mary, I immediately called her and told her I’d been targeted too.
“If it had just been me I’d have laughed it off, but I found he’d targeted others as some people might be in a more vulnerable position.
“This definitely wasn’t some kids mucking about. This was a mature man’s voice, someone old enough to know better.”
Kirkcaldy councillor Zoe Hisbent had a narrow escape, having received a call from a withheld number at around the same time, but didn’t answer.
“It was hugely disappointing to learn about colleagues being harassed in this way.
“I was in the fortunate position of not being able to take the call so was not subjected to the abuse first hand; I can only imagine the distress it must have caused.
“It is difficult to comprehend the twisted mentality of individuals who get their kicks from this type of behaviour.
“Whilst the bullying/harassment of any elected official is obviously unacceptable, the deliberate targeting of female members is outrageous and a clear message must be sent that it will not be tolerated!
“I would like to thank Police Scotland for their swift and constructive response, and the reassurances they were able to provide to those affected.”
Fife Council’s Depute Monitoring Officer Andrew Ferguson confirmed that the council was aware of the incident and that support and advice is available to anyone affected.
He added: “The fact that female councillors have been targeted in this way is very concerning and we would urge anyone who is receiving nuisance calls of this nature to report the matter to the police.”
A police Scotland spokesperson said: “We received a report of a nuisance call at around 8.20am on Tuesday, October 15. Enquiries are ongoing.”
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