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Conservative councillor resigns following expulsion decision

PUBLISHED: 13:33 06 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:15 07 August 2018

Waveney District Council offices at Riverside.  Picture: James Bass

Waveney District Council offices at Riverside. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2015

A councillor has resigned from the Conservative party following the expulsion of Waveney District Council's deputy leader over an alleged Islamophobic comment.

Kathleen Grant, who has resigned as a Conservative. Picture: Waveney District CouncillorKathleen Grant, who has resigned as a Conservative. Picture: Waveney District Councillor

A councillor has resigned from the Conservative party following the expulsion of Waveney District Council’s deputy leader over an alleged Islamophobic comment.

Stephen Ardley was expelled from the Conservative party last week after comments appeared on his Facebook account saying it was “unbelievable” a Muslim man had been elected Mayor of London, referencing Sadiq Khan.

Mr Ardley claimed he did not remember posting the comment and said he believed the decision to expel him was “pre-determined.”

Kathleen Grant and Nick Webb, Waveney District councillors for Pakefield and Whitton respectively, resigned over the weekend, with Mrs Grant branding the decision to expel Mr Ardley, who suffered a stroke last year, “uncaring” and based on an unverified email.

Nick Webb, who has resigned as a Conservative. Picture: Waveney District CouncillorNick Webb, who has resigned as a Conservative. Picture: Waveney District Councillor

Mrs Grant, who is Mr Ardley’s sister, said in her resignation letter to the leader of the council Mark Bee and officers: “I now feel that I cannot continue to serve as a Conservative after, in my opinion, the disappointing, unprofessional and uncaring way that Cllr Ardley was dealt with leading to his expulsion.

“I am very disappointed the way he has [sic] treated and feel I can no longer serve a party that treats its councillors of long standing that way acting on an anonymous and unverified email.”

It is understood the email sent to party chairman and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis was not fully verified during the investigation into Mr Ardley’s conduct, with members of the party concerned the screenshot of the comments sent was not corroborated.

It is also understood the person who sent the original email was invited to back up their claims, but did not return emails from the local Conservative association.

Mr Webb, who joined the Conservatives as a member three months ago, also quit, however it is not connected to Mr Ardley’s treatment.

In his resignation letter to Mr Bee he said: “It is with a great deal of regret that due to a change in my personal circumstances and work commitments that I cannot afford to give the amount of commitment needed to belong to a political group especially in administration with all that is required going forward to next year and the development of East Suffolk District Council.”

Both councillors and Mr Ardley will continue to serve on the council as Independents.

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