Jackie Weaver explains what happened at viral council meeting after 'no authority' ruling

The Shropshire council officer who became an internet sensation when she muted councillors at an online meeting says she did not throw them out of the meeting.

Jackie Weaver during the controversial Handforth Parish Council meeting
Jackie Weaver during the controversial Handforth Parish Council meeting

An independent investigation found that Jackie Weaver, from Prees, did not have the authority to remove members of Handforth Parish Council from a meeting in December 2020.

The meeting across the Cheshire border went viral when it descended into chaos with shouting and councillors losing their temper and has gone on to be seen by millions of people after clips from it went online in February 2021.

Mrs Weaver, who had been brought in to oversee what was expected to be a controversial meeting, muted some councillors which exasperated others who told her she 'did not have the authority'.

The term has become a catchphrase across the UK.

An independent investigation which cost the council £85,000 was launched into the meeting and the wider behaviour of some councillors.

The reports from the investigation by Bevan Brittain, now published by Handforth Parish Council, have found that Mrs Weaver did not have the authority to manage the attendance.

Defending her decision, she said it had been early days for virtual council meetings and things were vague about how they worked.

"I did not actually remove them from the meeting, in my opinion, I moved them to the waiting room," she said.

"A little later in the meeting the remaining councillors voted to remove them."

She welcomed the findings of the report but said she was deeply saddened that it had taken so long and cost so much.

The parish council Zoom meeting in December 2020 saw Mrs Weaver become an instant celebrity, making television appearances, and there was even a song written about her by Andrew Lloyd Webber. She has gone on to write a book and appear at functions across the region.

The investigation said: "Her purpose in attending was to facilitate the meetings going ahead, and it is understandable why she acted as she did. That said, we find that she was not acting in an official capacity at the meetings. She did not have authority to manage the attendance at those meetings, which she fully accepts.

“Faced with what were unusual and difficult circumstances, and the deep-seated issues underpinning those circumstances, we can understand why she acted as she did, despite her action being without any formal footing in terms of appropriate process and procedure.”

Mrs Weaver told the investigation she believed her actions were necessary given the behaviour of some of the councillors.

There were no formal findings made because the three councillors being investigated on a wider level all resigned.

The council has since been renamed Handforth Town Council.

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