Jonathan Nunn: Conservative council leader resigns over abuse claims

A Conservative council leader has resigned amid claims that he kicked, punched, spat at and throttled women.

A BBC investigation heard accounts from five women about Jonathan Nunn, who had led West Northamptonshire Council since 2021.

The accusations, which the 59-year-old "strenuously denies", included threatening or controlling behaviour.

In a statement, he said it "was incredibly difficult to take this decision".

A long-serving Tory councillor, Mr Nunn was elected to lead the county's newly formed unitary authority in 2021.

He said he was "extremely proud of my achievements as leader of the council during a challenging time for local government and since the council was formed three years ago".

"West Northants Council is in a very good place," he added.

He said he was "pursuing discussions with the police relating to the relentless harassment I have experienced", which he said was a "huge distraction not only to me, but also to all the good work of the council".

Mr Nunn said: "With all this having a massive impact on my mental health and wellbeing, I have decided to step down as council leader while I deal with these issues."

Jonathan Nunn at the It Only Takes One launch
Jonathan Nunn (top left) helped to launch a scheme tackling violence against women in 2022 [West Northamptonshire Council]

In 2004 Mr Nunn admitted assaulting his then wife, Janice Nunn, for which he received a community order.

Mr Nunn told the BBC he had "always been open and honest" about the fact that 20 years ago he received a conviction for assault.

"Domestic abuse is never acceptable and I profoundly regret this," he added.

As council leader, Mr Nunn has acted as a spokesperson for various women's initiatives and launched a campaign tackling violence against women.

After the attack in November 2003, police said Mrs Nunn, 50, had bruising to her shoulder, arms, chest, back, buttocks and legs.

She has now told the BBC she suffered repeatedly during their two-year marriage and described her husband as "the angriest person" she had ever met.

Paula Johnson
Neighbour Paula Johnson helped Mr Nunn's then wife when she was assaulted by him in 2003 [BBC]

On the night of the assault, Mrs Nunn said she was dragged to the floor and kicked "in full view of the neighbours", and she took refuge in one of their houses.

The neighbour, Paula Johnson, told the BBC "Jon barged in and was absolutely furious, shouting, 'you think you can protect my wife?', and she said he later "put his hands around my throat, and was squeezing really tightly".

In his police interview, he said it was "not his typical character" and he would "take steps" to ensure it did not happen again. He told police he did not recall attacking Ms Johnson.

Carolyn Marks
Carolyn Marks had twins with Mr Nunn [BBC]

The BBC has found that West Midlands Police recorded a domestic violence incident against Mr Nunn in 2008 involving another partner, Carolyn Marks.

Ms Marks has a recording of him repeatedly swearing at her for throwing half a pizza in the bin and calling her a "waste of space".

In 2012 a family court ordered that he should attend a domestic violence perpetrator programme.

His first wife, Maria Botterill, told the BBC Mr Nunn threatened her with a knife on more than one occasion, "whacked" her while she was a passenger in his car, spat at her and held her against the floor.

After announcing his decision to step down as leader, Mr Nunn said: "It is incredibly difficult to take this decision, not because of the job title but because of the pride and passion I feel for the council and the area that it serves.

"However, our greatest achievement has been to build a strong council that will continue to deliver for local residents."

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