Cllr Denise Capstick is the Health and Adult Social Care Executive member on Southwark Council. She is a former Mayor of Southwark and a Major in the Territorial Army. She has a good record of service to the public.
But last week she was convicted of drink driving, banned from driving for 18 months and ordered to pay a £500 fine. Apparently she was caught by the Police when she was attempting to drive home after getting drunk at this year's Mayor Making party. She had called out the AA because of a gearbox problem, who then called the Police when they realised she was drunk.
The explanation which she has sent to all councillors in an e-mail is barely credible and involves a convoluted tale of losing contact with her friends at the party, being unable to get a taxi, and taking the decision to drive home rather than walk.
This was foolish and criminal behaviour by Denise. For years governments and the Police have worked to rightly stigmatise the act of drinking and driving - not just because it is the law, but because people still get killed and seriously injured by drunk drivers.
I am absolutely stunned that Denise has not yet chosen to act honourably and resign from both her Executive position and the Council. It is right that councillors are only human, and are subject to human frailties, but her conviction shows that she has fallen well below the standard to be expected of a person in elected political office. Politicians often complain about the cynicism with which the public treat us, but is it any wonder if the public see people like Denise just "getting away with it" following a criminal conviction and being allowed to hold on to her £42,000 salary and the perks that go with it.
The reaction of the Council Leader is even more amazing. Cllr Stanton has defended Denise on the basis that "..she didn't crash". Well that's alright then. A drunk driver can motor around Southwark with the Council Leader's approval providing they don't run anyone over or collide with anything. Cllr Stanton has said some foolish things in his time, but this must rank as his most stupid.
Drink driving is a crime; society should rightly condemn those who drive when drunk. Cllr Capstick should resign immediately.