A Burton Conservative councillor has quit the Tories to become an independent after claiming that she was a victim of bullying.

However, separate investigations by the national Conservative Association and two probes by East Staffordshire Borough Council have found there were no grounds to her complaints.

Former military policeman Deneice Florence-Jukes was the Tory councillor for Horninglow on East Staffordshire Borough Council after winning her first election on Thursday, May 4, but announced she was leaving the party on Monday, February 5, and would continue representing the ward as an independent councillor.

Councillor Florence-Jukes, from Winshill, 56, claimed to the Burton Mail that she had found "a culture of bullying and victimisation" in the Tory group and that she made a complaint to the central Conservative Party. She also criticised the Tories in East Staffordshire.

Motion to scrap 'outdated' titles for female councillors is rejected - but they will be allowed to choose

She said: "I am extremely proud to have served in our military and the Metropolitan Police. I did not have the same sense of pride at being a member of the Conservative Party. In fact, I felt a deep sense of shame."

Her claims of bullying have also been strongly denied by leader of Tory-run East Staffordshire Borough Council councillor Richard Grosvenor, who said that the Conservative Party deplored any form of bullying and it would not be tolerated.

The party has been approached for comment on the allegation and a spokesman confirmed a complaint was received from councillor Florence-Jukes alleging bullying and harassment but, after an investigation by an independent body, it was ruled to have been without foundation.

Councillor Florence-Jukes alleged to the Burton Mail: "I find myself in the position where I cannot support the leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council, councillor Richard Grosvenor. I believe the residents of East Staffordshire deserve far better governance.

"I felt enslaved in a political straitjacket unable to properly challenge or scrutinise the decision-making of the leader or his executive as I was expected to 'toe the party line' and vote according to the party whip.

Deneice Florence-Jukes, East Staffordshire borough councillor for the Horninglow Ward
Deneice Florence-Jukes, East Staffordshire borough councillor for the Horninglow Ward

"In addition, there exists within the Tory Party a culture of bullying and victimisation that I can be no part of.

"I am a strong advocate for standing up to bullies and will not be part of any organisation which allows a culture of bullying to exist. I have high moral standards and will not compromise these for any party."

In response, councillor Grosvenor said: "The Conservative Party deplores bullying and intimidation in all of its forms. When complaints are made of that nature they are taken with the utmost seriousness and thoroughly and independently investigated.

"No formal complaints of bullying and harassment have been received by East Staffordshire Conservative Association throughout the time councillor Florence-Jukes has been a member of the Conservative Party.

"The central Conservative Party did receive a complaint alleging bullying and harassment from councillor Florence-Jukes. That complaint was heard by an independent QC who concluded that the allegations made were completely without foundation.

"Additionally, I am aware of two further complaints made by councillor Florence-Jukes to the East Staffordshire Borough Council monitoring officer. These complaints were dealt with in line with the council’s standards complaints procedures, in consultation with the independent member of the standards regime who has decided that they should also not progress any further.

Councillor Richard Grosvenor, leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council
Conservative councillor Richard Grosvenor, leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council

"On her resignation from the party, we recognise the difficulties that new councillors have in working as a team member when it may be in conflict with an individualistic approach."

East Staffordshire councillor Conor Wileman, who is the chairman of East Staffordshire Conservatives, added: "We were aware for some time that councillor Florence-Jukes was struggling to work with her Conservative colleagues at East Staffordshire Borough Council due to her differing opinions regarding a number of policies of the council.

"We are naturally disappointed that she has chosen to resign from the party, particularly as she was elected on the basis of supporting the Conservatives manifesto, and we hope she will continue to honour these pledges as an independent councillor."

Councillor Florence-Jukes will continue representing Horninglow as an independent candidate, and has insisted that she believes she will be able to continue making an impact in the area.

She said: "I don’t need the party, I think I can do it better on my own because I can challenge a lot more of what the borough are doing and not be told to ask certain things.

"I've come to the realisation that I just don't need that party.

"I would say that I’m making a real impact in Horninglow and I know that because of the feedback I'm getting."