Jim Tootle, 59, who is a UK councillor of Carlisle City and Cumbria County councils, blamed a ‘cursing stone’ for local disasters and said that the monument should be destroyed.

Jim Tootle has now died after a sudden illness.

Jim Tootle, 59, hit the headlines for suggesting that the cursing stone might have been responsible for the Cumbria floods of 2005 and the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak.

The huge granite stone is situated in an underpass close to Carlisle Castle, and features just over 300 words from a 1,069-word curse thought to be the world’s longest.

It was designed by artist Gordon Young and erected in 2001 as part of nearby Tullie House Museum’s Millennium Gallery.

The curse dates back to the 16th century and was invoked to ward away the ‘Border Reivers’, robbers and highwaymen who blighted the area 500 years ago.

Mr Tootle was a Liberal Democrat councillor on Carlisle City and Cumbria County councils.

He suffered a suspected cardiac arrest in the Cumberland Infirmary on Friday while receiving kidney dialysis.

Mr Tootle had a reputation for plain speaking and would sometimes vote against other members of his party.

Councillor Nan Farmer, leader of the city council’s Lib Dem group, said: ‘Jim would stand up and speak about what he believed in.

‘He certainly had the courage of his convictions.’

Mr Tootle attracted worldwide media attention in 2005 by suggesting the cursing stone had caused a number of local disasters.

He called for it to be removed or destroyed but the suggestion was thrown out by city councillors.

Former group leader Trevor Allison said: ‘I will miss him. His approach to his illness was extraordinary. He was stoical, cheerful even.’

Until recently, Mr Tootle worked as a resident-involvement officer for Impact Housing.

He leaves a wife Janet, son Alisdair and daughter Katriona.

Mr Tootle was elected to Carlisle City Council in 2004 and to Cumbria County Council in 2009.

He had been deputy leader of the city council’s Lib Dem group since 2009.

His death will trigger by-elections on both authorities.

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