Waveney councillor suspended for allegedly posting Islamophobic comments about Sadiq Khan

Stephen Ardley. Photo: Archant library.

Stephen Ardley. Photo: Archant library. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A Conservative councillor has been suspended after he allegedly posted Islamophobic comments about the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on Facebook.

Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney awards evening 2016.Stephen Ardley PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney awards evening 2016.Stephen Ardley PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Stephen Ardley, deputy leader of Waveney District Council and a Suffolk county councillor, allegedly said it was 'unbelievable' that a Muslim had been elected as mayor.

Mr Ardley's comment on a Facebook post, believed to have been posted two years ago, said: 'I think it's unbelievable that a Muslim was actually elected the mayor of this great Christian country - oh wait he's labour so the blind leading the blind just vote red and left.'

Mr Ardley has been suspended by the Conservative Party, pending an investigation.

Conservative councillor Mark Bee, leader of Waveney District Council, said: 'An allegation was sent to the chairman of the Conservative Party, Brandon Lewis, concerning Stephen Ardley about a comment alleged to have been made on social media.

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'He has been suspended by the Conservative Party and an investigation will take place. In the meantime Stephen will sit as an independent on both councils and will not be able to be in the cabinet or perform the role of deputy leader until the outcome of the investigation.'

Sarji Ayub, vice chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk Islamic Mission, said an investigation was the right way of dealing with the situation.

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'I'm very pleased that the Conservative Party are going to be conducting internal enquiries and, if indeed the evidence of wrongdoing is clear, he should of course be struck off,' he said. 'Investigating is absolutely the right way of going about things because it shows they're taking it seriously.

'It's a surprise to see comments like this from a councillor. They should know better because generally they are educated people.

'Even if it is a councillor's personal feeling, it would shock me to hear them say it publicly because they are effectively exposing their beliefs.

'On the whole it's a rare case for something like this to come from a politician, but there seems to have been an increase since the last US election.'

Mr Ardley is a district councillor for the Gunton and Corton wards of Lowestoft, and is cabinet member for merger and communities. He represents the Gunton division on the county council and is also a former Lowestoft mayor.

A joint statement from Waveney and Suffolk County Council said: 'Waveney District Council and Suffolk County Council understand that councillor Stephen Ardley has been suspended by the Conservative Party, pending an investigation in comments alleged to have been made on social media.

'This suspension therefore also applies to the Conservative groups on both councils. While this investigation is ongoing it would be inappropriate for the councils to make any further comment at this stage.'

Mr Ardley has been contacted for a comment.

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