THE councillor whose resignation cost the Conservative Party its majority on Northumberland County Council has revealed she quit over a campaign of “malicious” abuse.

Cath Homer stepped down from her seat representing the county’s Hexham East ward last week, triggering a by-election.

A former member of the local authority’s ruling cabinet, Coun. Homer claimed she had been the victim of attacks for several years, but that this had intensified after she became embroiled in a row over the suspension of the council’s chief executive.

She said: “The first thing that happened to me was my house was graffitied during the 2015 general election and then various other low level things have happened from time to time.

“But since the situation last year, I’ve been subjected to quite a high level of abuse and intimidation.

“My family’s reaction has been the catalyst for doing this – when my family started getting affected then it was time to walk away.”

She added: “It’s gone from being anonymous blogs to direct, malicious, anonymous communications sent to my home, including to my children – that’s another level of abuse, it’s gone a step too far.”

Coun. Homer’s resignation has wiped out the Tories’ previous majority of just one in the council chamber, although they remain the largest single political group.

A by-election has now been scheduled for December 16.

When asked, Coun. Homer denied she had quit ahead of the completion of an investigation into claims made by council chief executive, Daljit Lally.

She insisted that if that were the case she would not have “subjected [herself] to this for months”.

Following her decision to step down, tribute was paid by her former council colleague Coun. Trevor Cessford.

Speaking at the Tynedale Local Area Council, he thanked Coun. Homer for her work, adding: “In council meetings we talk about respect a lot, we talk about stress and mental health of residents and council officers and staff and rightly so.

“But apparently it’s ok to fire abuse at councillors and their families with no restrictions or limits.

“When it comes to vile, anonymous letters being sent through councillors’ letterboxes addressed to their children, I think that is beyond the pale.

“If that is what floats these people’s boats who do this, in my eyes they’re very sad excuses for human beings.”