Tory councillor apologises following suspension for allegedly posting Islamophobic comments
PUBLISHED: 12:23 20 June 2018 | UPDATED: 12:23 20 June 2018
A Conservative councillor has apologised for comments made “in the heat of the moment” about London mayor Sadiq Khan.
Stephen Ardley, deputy leader of Waveney District Council and a Suffolk county councillor, was suspended by the Conservative Party on June 2 after allegedly saying it was “unbelievable” that a Muslim had been elected as mayor.
His 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.”
In a letter sent to Jean Bowry, chairman of the Waveney Constituency Conservative Association, Mr Ardley made a “full and unreserved apology”, stating that his “poorly-worded comments” were “intended primarily to present a political opinion rather than an expression of any views regarding Islam.”
A spokesman for the association said Mr Ardley, a former mayor of Lowestoft, is “adamant that he does not hold any negative views about Islam or the Muslim community and sincerely regrets any offence he may have caused.”
He is also “sorry for any embarrassment he may have caused to the Conservative Party, Waveney Conservative Association and to Waveney District, and Suffolk County Councils.”
Conservative Association officers will meet in the next few days to discuss the situation and decide if there is any disciplinary action that needs to be taken.
Mr Ardley, who is the district councillor for the Gunton and Corton wards of Lowestoft, is set to make a personal statement in July at the next Waveney District Council and Suffolk County Council meetings, where he will express regret at having made the comments and apologise.
He has also agreed to attend diversity and equality training which will be organised by Waveney District Council.
In addition to being the cabinet member for merger and communities, Mr Ardley represents the Gunton division on the county council.
Along with other councillors, he will need to go through a re-selection process later in the year should he wish to stand in next May’s elections to the new East Suffolk Council.
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