A FURIOUS war of words has erupted as Hyndburn Council became embroiled in a "Petergate" snooping row.
Council leader Peter Britcliffe claimed that members of the opposition Labour group have been found in his office at Scaitcliffe House.
And he has written to Labour leader Councillor Graham Jones, calling on him to resign.
At last Thursday’s council meeting, Councillor Britcliffe said: "Why am I not surprised that Councillor Jones possesses leaked documents?
"Members of the Labour group have actually been found in my office going through my things and I think that’s terrible.
"My computer has been used and that stinks."
However, Councillor Jones said he was outraged with the "lies" and until he is given specific times, dates and names, he refuses to take the allegations seriously.
He later told the Observer: "This man is a joke and shouldn’t be running the council.
"When I received the letter I filed it under B for bin. I have asked my councillors and they tell me that nobody has been ‘snooping’ in the council leader’s office. There is no evidence.
"I have been given no names, no times and no dates. How does he expect me to investigate something like that?
"Once I have this information I will carry out an official investigation but until then I will not take this matter seriously."
In the letter to his political opponent, Councillor Britcliffe said that he had been informed by a "reliable source" that a spare key had been used to unlock his office door.
He added: "If you claim not to have known then you have clearly demonstrated that you have no control over the party which you lead."
Councillor Jones has since sent a letter of reply to the Tory leader, saying he was tired of "silly complaints and little petty point scoring".
He said he would not be reciprocating the call for a resignation, adding that he would leave that to the voters in May.
He said that all computer systems within the council were encrypted with unique passwords and log-ins and the high security meant it was virtually impossible for anyone else to access an individual’s computer.
A council spokesman said it was a matter between the political parties and police had not been informed.