Leicestershire councillor Graham Partner’s leaflet was breach of conduct code

 

A Leicestershire councillor undermined good race relations by producing a leaflet which criticised Muslims, a watchdog has found.

Councillor Graham Partner – who quit the BNP to sit as an independent – has been censured “in the strongest possible terms” for sending out the New Year message to more than 5,000 voters in his Coalville division.

The leaflet, which featured part of an article from a national newspaper, said victimhood “comes easily” to followers of Islam.

The leaflet said: “Every terrorist atrocity, every blood-soaked massacre is justified by reference to imagined grievances. But the greatest persecutors of other faiths are Muslim, themselves.”

The leaflet also made derogatory references to a Nigerian convicted of rape, Palestinians, the Third World and Pakistan.

It criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for being “woolly in thought and appearance”.

The leaflet prompted complaints from two fellow county councillors and two parish councillors.

Yesterday, a county council standards sub-committee strongly censured Coun Partner and ruled he should undertake equality training.

Coun Partner, who did not attend the hearing, saying he had to work, was found to have breached the code of conduct on two counts by showing disrespect to others and bringing the authority into disrepute.

The hearing was held after an investigation carried out by the Race Equality Centre in Leicester.

In her report, centre chief executive Iris Lightfoote said: “Councillor Partner’s leaflet can be viewed as a breach of the equality legislation on two grounds.

“Firstly, by causing harassment to people of Nigerian origin, Third World origin, Palestinian origin, Pakistani origin, any non-Christian beliefs as well as those of a liberal Christian belief.

“Secondly, the leaflet can be seen as failing to foster good race relations and religious relations.”

In his statement, Coun Partner, who had signed a declaration to abide by the code of conduct, said: “The claim that the leaflet caused distress to any minorities has not been demonstrated, but it was seen as an opportunity to feign offence on their behalf by political rivals who are incapable of defeating a single independent councillor by fair and proper means.”

Standards sub-committee chairman Martin Caple said: “We feel Coun Partner has undermined good race relations.

“We are mindful that the production of the leaflet has the potential to be disrespectful to a large section of the community.

“We would expect Coun Partner to show greater respect to the values and beliefs of others.

“We would expect Coun Partner to be mindful of the need to be sensitive to the whole community, particularly those he represents.

“We have decided Coun Partner is censured in the strongest possible terms as this is a serious matter.”

The committee decided he should receive equality training to be organised by monitoring officer David Morgan.

After the hearing, Suleman Nagdi, spokesman for the Leicestershire Federation of Muslim Organisations, said: “I welcome the ruling. As a holder of public office, one must uphold the highest standards of conduct which are geared towards uniting communities and not dividing them.

“I hope we can put this behind us and it is not repeated.”

County council chairman Peter Lewis was one of the people who complained after seeing the leaflet.

After the hearing, he said: “It is of the greatest importance that we maintain the highest standards of public conduct, whatever our political affiliations.

“These must be secondary to the way we see the people we serve.

“I see my task as chairman of the county council to ensure every councillor respects the public and, in turn, deserves their respect.”

Coun Partner declined to comment further.

From The Leicester Mercury . 28.06.12

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