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A MAN has been appeared in court in connection with a poison-pen letter putting a price on the heads of Durham county councillors.

David Lindsay, who stood unsuccessfully as an Independent candidate for the Lanchester ward in the recent council elections, appeared at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court charged with one count of malicious communications.

The 39-year-old, dressed in a black pin-striped suit with a silk handkerchief in his the top pocket, spoke only to confirm his name and address.

His solicitor, Alexandra White, told the court Mr Lindsay was electing trial by jury and indicated a plea of not guilty.

The hearing arises from a letter which offered thousands of pounds as a reward for the “head” of any Labour councillors.

It was sent directly to Durham Constabulary’s Chief Constable Mike Barton, who then contacted the local authority to alert members to the threat.

As a result of the letter which arrived at police headquarters on February 28, the council’s chief executive wrote to all members to reassure them that there was no intelligence to corroborate the threat.

Mr Lindsay was arrested weeks before the council elections and charged with one offence of malicious communications A police spokesman said at the time: “Within this letter were the names of 57 Labour Durham county councillors.

“The letter stated that ‘contracts’ involving varying sums of money had been taken out on each of them.

“This also applied to any other prospective candidate standing for the Labour Party at the forthcoming May elections.”

Mr Lindsay, of Foxhills Crescent, Lanchester, polled 203 votes in the May 4 elections.

Chairman of the bench Alan Adams said: “By your own choice this matter will go to Durham Crown Court. The next hearing will be in June 13 at 10am.”

Mr Lindsay was granted conditional bail.