Birmingham councillor Simon Morrall given restraining order after harassing 'secret' ex-girlfriend

BPM Media
The former Conservative councillor had the whip removed, and now represents the Frankley Great Park ward as an independent.. Credit: BPM Media

A councillor has been given a two-year restraining order after he admitted harassing his ex-girlfriend with unwanted phone calls that left her distraught.

Simon Morrall, 34, was elected to Birmingham City Council as a Conservative candidate in May 2018.

Morrall had the Conservative whip removed after he was charged and is currently sitting as an independent, representing the Frankley Great Park ward.

Birmingham Magistrates' Court heard the pair's relationship had been largely conducted in secret because her family disapproved.

When the relationship deteriorated the woman had made clear to Morrall that she wanted to make a "fresh start" and cut ties - but he continued to ring her repeatedly.

But even after she stopped taking his calls he continued to phone, to the point of harassing her, the court was told. 

Morrall, from Rednal, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to a single charge of pursuing a course of conduct that amounted to harassment of the woman between 17 December 2022 and 7 January last year.

Morrall, who at the time was the local Conservatives' spokesman on family and children issues, accepted he caused distress by ringing the woman repeatedly. 

He had earlier denied two charges of stalking and harassment. The more serious offence of stalking was dismissed.

Morrall, representing himself in court, was sentenced to a 12-month community order, inclusive of 15 rehabilitation days and 80 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay a total of £614 in court costs and a surcharge.

A two-year restraining order was also made ordering him not to have any contact, directly or indirectly, with the victim, nor to visit her place of work or her home address. 

In a written basis for the plea submitted and accepted by the prosecution and the judge, Morrall accepted a series of facts, including that he and the victim had been in a relationship since July 2022.

They had met at a Commonwealth Games community event which Morrall attended in his role as a councillor. They exchanged numbers and soon after started a relationship.

But Shawn Williams, prosecuting, said the woman's mother and sister disapproved of Morrall after an incident at the family home. After that the relationship was conducted "in secret", he said.

Morrall said: "I am proud of being a Conservative councillor in my area, and hope I can return to the party." Credit: BPM Media

In November that year the woman feared she was pregnant, the court heard. They last went out together on 17 December, by which time a pregnancy test had come back negative.

Mr Williams told the court that in the run-up to Christmas, the woman had made clear to Morrall that she wanted to make a "fresh start" in the new year and cut ties. However, he continued to contact her. Mr Williams told the court: "The relationship had deteriorated but he kept calling her."

In his interview with police, Morrall had said he had been anxious that she might be pregnant with his child. Mr Williams said: "He says she revealed to him in November that she might be pregnant." 

Morrall, in his subsequent agreed statement setting out the basis of his plea, said that on 29 November he left a card and chocolates asking the woman to call him to let him know "what the position was" with the possible pregnancy.

The court was told they met a couple of days later. The pair struck up their relationship again in mid-December, but it was short-lived. He then spent three weeks calling her regularly, without a response, the court heard.

Mr Williams told the court the relationship breakdown and its aftermath had caused the victim distress and anxiety. She had lost weight, struggled to sleep and had become paranoid that Morrall would turn up wherever she went.

In mitigation, Morrall said: "I accept I should not have made those calls." 

He told the court he had suffered abuse when the story of his arrest appeared in the press, and that his mental health had been severely impacted. He said he had always wanted to bring the matter to a close quickly to avoid any further distress to the woman involved.

Morrall said: "I accept the distress I caused to her and also to my own family. I should have known to stop calling her, and I accept that doing so would have caused her distress. I apologise."

Morrall said his political career had also been affected, adding: "I am proud of being a Conservative councillor in my area, and hope I can return to the party." He said he hoped to continue as a councillor but accepted his chances of becoming an MP were unlikely.

District Judge John Bristow said he was sentencing Morrall on the agreed basis of his guilty plea, and on the basis that he ought to have known his continued calls amounted to her experiencing harassment. He said he took account of positive character reports submitted on his behalf and his belated guilty plea.

District Judge Bristow said: "I am satisfied the offence is serious enough to warrant a community sentence given the aggravating features and mitigation."

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