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EXCLUSIVE: Perth councillor suspended by Tories over drink-driving charge

Perth and Kinross Council HQ
Perth and Kinross Council HQ

The Scottish Conservative party has suspended a Perth councillor accused of drink-driving.

Audrey Coates, who represents the Perth City South ward, is alleged to have got behind the wheel while nearly three times the legal limit.

The 65-year-old has been charged by police and will appear in court next month.

A Tory party spokesman confirmed she has been suspended at national and local level, pending the outcome of the court case.

Allegation

It is alleged the award-winning businesswoman drove a Citreon C1 along Longcauseway, Seafield Road and Cornhill Road in Perth, after consuming so much alcohol there was 177 milligrams of it in 100 ml of urine.

The legal limit is 67 milligrams.

According to court papers, the alleged offence took place on September 26, 2020.

Coates, of Cornhill Road, is further accused of driving without insurance.

The case was called in her absence at Perth Sheriff Court, and continued without plea until July 2. The councillor is ordained to appear.

Coates, who is married to Perth City North councillor Harry, was voted in at a by-election in 2017.

The couple ran the Belvoire letting agency in the city centre.

Legal process

Councillor Murray Lyle, leader of the local authority’s Tory administration said: “As leader of the Scottish Conservative Group on Perth and Kinross Council, I have acted to suspend councillor Audrey Coates today, pending the outcome of any court process.”

He said: “It is important that the legal process is carried out as quickly as possible and I will await the decision of the sheriff court before making any further comment.”

Mr Lyle added: “Councillor Coates has also been suspended from the Scottish Conservation and Unionist Party today, also pending the outcome of the court process.”

Perth and Kinross Council said it was unable to comment on live court proceedings.

By-election

The 2017 Perth South by-election was called after the departure of former councillor Michael Jamieson, following his arrest on child abuse image charges.

Commenting on her election win, Letham-raised Coates said: “This is an exciting time for Perth and Kinross as we seek to promote ourselves as a forward-looking city which builds on our rich heritage.”

She pledged to campaign to save services at Perth Royal Infirmary and for investment in young people and education.

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