During a meeting of the Handforth parish council on December the 10th seen here, the chairman of the council was removed from a Zoom meeting by the Zoom meeting host. The recording of this meeting has gone viral in the UK.

This event happened prior to the meeting officially starting, where conversation took place regarding the capacity and title of the meeting co-ordinator, Jackie Weaver. Jackie Weaver said:

I am here offering support to Handforth parish council in the conduct of this meeting this evening

It was not clear that her capacity was as clerk or proper officer of the meeting.

Several minutes on, disruption ensued and Jackie Weaver removed the chairman of the council from the meeting. Yet seconds before this happened, the chair stated:

It is only the chair who can remove people from a meeting.

Mrs. Weaver argues she acted so because the Chairman was disrupting the meeting and questioning her authority, others at the meeting objected to this. Furthermore, Mrs. Weaver proposed electing a new chairman after ejecting the official chairman. However, this was opposed by others stating the position automatically fell on the Vice chairman.

My question is, did Jackie Weaver have the legal authority to remove the chairman of the meeting? If she didn't, does it even matter as the meeting officially hadn't even started yet?

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    David Allen Green (prominent UK constitutional lawyer) pretty much answered this two days ago in a blog post entitled "Did Jackie Weaver have the authority?. I'm not sure that us non-lawyers can add much to that. Feb 7, 2021 at 21:12
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    @SteveMelnikoff the linked blog seems to be a fairly excellent answer to the question at hand. And manages to avoid any of the usual de jure or de facto terminology one excepts from rules based exchanges. I'd happily up vote a summation with a couple of nice quotes as an answer.
    – Jontia
    Feb 8, 2021 at 15:03

2 Answers 2


At a meeting on March 10th, 2022, Cheshire East Council voted to release six reports into the conduct of councillors on Handforth Parish Council (now Handforth Town Council). These were published on the 29th on the council's website. Report 4 - Multiple Complaints against Cllr Tolver 27 May 2021 contains the following summary of Jackie Weaver's actions, and explores whether she did, indeed, have the authority. The relevant parts of the executive summary are paragraphs 1.3.1 to 1.3.11, with the most relevant paragraphs reproduced below:

1.3.7 When interviewed, JW [Jackie Weaver] stated that she was satisfied that the meetings had been called properly, and was concerned that BT [Councillor Brian Tolver], [REDACTED] were intending to pass a motion to close the meetings down. JW states that she wanted to ensure that the behaviour of BT, [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] did not stop the meetings proceeding, which is why she felt it necessary to mute and remove BT, [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] following their disruptive behaviour.

1.3.8 It is clear that BT attended at the meetings with the intention of stopping them from proceeding. Had BT been able to put a motion to the meetings that they were unlawful and could not go ahead, as he was attempting to do at the time JW muted BT's microphone, it would have been likely that this motion would have been passed.

1.3.9 JW (as well as [REDACTED], and [REDACTED]) was aware of that possibility, and knew that if such a motion was raised, it would likely result in the meetings coming to an end. It was of course this circumstance that JW was seeking to avoid. Her purpose in attending was to facilitate the meetings going ahead, and it is understandable why she acted as she did.

1.3.10 That said, we find that JW was not acting in an official capacity at the meetings. She did not have authority to manage the attendance at those meetings (which she fully accepts). It is therefore also understandable why her actions, including interjecting and talking over BT, [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], would likely cause those Councillors to become agitated, as this was a direct challenge to their intended action to bring the meetings to an end. Nonetheless, the position of Councillor carries with it a requirement to uphold and maintain high standards of conduct, and to comply with the Code at all times when acting in that capacity.

The full report goes on, in paragraph 7.18:

We find that JW was not acting in an official capacity at the meetings. She did not have authority to manage the attendance at those meetings, and more specifically did not have authority to mute Councillors’ microphones, or remove them from the meetings. Indeed when interviewed JW fully accepted that this was the case. She states that she was in attendance at the meetings to assist and facilitate them taking place. She knew that she did not have any “authority”. She stated that she believed that her actions were necessary given the behaviour of BT, [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], and in order to allow the meetings (that she believed to have been lawfully called) to proceed.

So no, Jackie Weaver did not have any legal authority to take the actions she did. However, the report does state that they can "understand why Jackie Weaver acted as she did, despite her action being without any formal footing in terms of appropriate process and procedure".



  • That the standing orders don't seem to provide any mechanism for the removal of a disruptive chair.
  • That councillors that were removed did not recognise that an extraordinary meeting was meeting at all, so can't claim to be chairing a meeting.
  • That the actions of Ms Weaver were ratified by the chair elected after the exclusion of two councillors.
  • That the excluded councillors were invited to return on the condition that they did not continue to disturb the meeting.
  • The exceptional nature of the meeting, not only an irregular meeting, but also held over zoom.

The actions of Ms Weaver were proportional and reasonable to the task she'd been asked by the council to perform: to ensure the smooth running of the planning committee meeting. The chairman of the council refused to take the chair and recognise the meeting; acted to disrupt the meeting; was removed (in practical terms) by Ms Weaver, acting as the agent of the meeting. And this removal was approved and ratified by the Vice Chair Ms Moore, who was chosen as chair of the meeting an so has the authority to remove disruptive people in standing orders.

Imagine a live meeting. The chair of the council disrupts the meeting. A Police Constable (who has been invited to assist with securing the meeting) removes the councillor from the room, a new chair is elected and the actions of the PC are approved by the new chair and the remainder of the meeting. This is all proper, the only difference is that zoom allows for Ms Weaver to do a task that might not be physically able to do in a live meeting.

And thus Ms Weaver acted reasonably as the agent of the meeting.

  • 1
    Are you using PC in the sense of police constable, which is my inference from context?
    – origimbo
    Dec 12, 2021 at 20:38
  • Yes, but it is just an example of a person who might have power to remove someone but is not the chair of the meeting.
    – James K
    Dec 12, 2021 at 21:01
  • If a chairperson stands against the meeting of its organization isn't the legitimacy of the meeting should be questioned? If this is a physical meeting, there would also have a meeting organizer to help set up and maintain order, but is this organizer above the chairperson - the head of the organization, and can void the chairperson's power without a full member vote? Weired.
    – r13
    Dec 13, 2021 at 3:39
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    The kind of legalism is the problem which the council was having. Its meetings regularly descended into petty arguments about points of order and "who has the legal authority" rather than attempting to deal with any issues at hand.
    – James K
    Dec 13, 2021 at 5:14

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