KIM Gottlieb has broken the pre-election purdah rules to defend himself on the Hampshire Chronicle website.

The city councillor had declined to talk publicly about the investigation into his alleged bullying, citing the restrictions on comment during election campaigns.

The city council has been in possession since January of a report into the allegations which he strongly denies.

Last week Cllr Gottlieb had refused to discuss it but then commented on the website after a posting critical of him from the daughter of Stephen Godfrey, the former leader of the city council.

It shows the deep rift within the Conservative group that stems from Cllr Gottlieb’s successful attempt at a judicial review to scupper the Silver Hill scheme.

Cllr Gottlieb posted: “The bullying charge is false and pernicious, and it was raised quite deliberately by certain folk who came out on the wrong side of the judicial review and of the independent inquiry that followed. Nor did ‘they’ like me challenging their efforts to resuscitate the earlier Henderson scheme, which they previously claimed was unviable, or my contesting their direction on Station Approach, which was another major project where the city council spent hundreds of thousands in a misguided way.

“The complaint underlying the ‘report’ is that I was improperly critical of officers. I reject that complaint and see my questioning as part of the job of a councillor to highlight and to expose things being done wrong.

“For the record, there is no actual complaint that I bullied anyone. It is unfortunate that ‘they’ have also used these pages to continue to smear and snipe whilst cowardly hiding behind pseudonyms.

“Hopefully the new administration will be taking the council in new directions but, in the meantime, I intend to continue to do the job of an elected representative.”

Earlier this month the Chronicle revealed that Cllr Gottlieb had told a fellow Tory councillor, James Byrnes to ‘**** off’ during a break in the council meeting.

In December Cllr Gottlieb e-mailed senior councillors to say he would defend himself over the report and his response would not be “timid or discreet.”

The city council has threatened the Chronicle with an injunction to prevent publication of the report.

Cllr Gottlieb yesterday issued a statement, explaining why he broke the 'purdah' silence: "The rules regarding purdah can be a tad complex so, when in doubt, it’s best to say nothing.

"However, when the news story changed tack and focussed on the “bullying” allegation I felt compelled to respond. There is no “bullying probe” and the suggestion that I have bullied anyone is as deeply unpleasant as it is completely false.

"Shortly before he left the Council, Simon Eden accused me of “bullying behaviour” in an email he sent to Stephen Godfrey, because he wanted me to be removed from the new committee set up to tackle Silver Hill.

"Yet, when at the same time he submitted a formal complaint about me, he did not accuse me of bullying, presumably because even he realised that it wasn’t true.

"I don’t know what hand Eden may have had in the appointment of the external investigator considering the earlier complaints made by Stephen Godfrey, but because the report produced was fundamentally flawed and lacked an appreciation of the relevant law, such as that relating to freedom of speech, I challenged it.

"This mess is just one of a number that the new Administration has inherited, and their efforts to resolve it have not been helped by the leaking of the confidential draft report."