Leading councillors have condemned the decision by a council sub-committee to not investigate a councillor who made racist remarks as “utterly unexplainable,” and “hurtful.”
Cllr Peter Marland & Cllr Douglas McCall have condemned the conduct of a panel of councillors and said they will try and get the decision not to investigate Conservative Cllr Terry Baines, who had posted racist comments on Facebook, reviewed. The hearing voted 2 -1 not to refer the matter for full independent investigation. Only Labour Cllr Norman Miles voted for the full investigation.
Cllr Baines had posted “It is time to stop the invasion of Migrants and time to send a lot back.” on the Facebook page of the Conservative MP for MK North, Ben Everitt.
An independent review had concluded the remarks were offensive, disrespectful and derogatory. The independent review also advised that Cllr Baines had shown a poor personal example and could be considered to have brought Milton Keynes Council into disrepute. The independent person recommended the panel refer the matter for full investigation which could have resulted in some level of sanction. Instead the panel voted to drop the matter which means that no wrongdoing has been determined to have been committed by Cllr Baines and no action can be taken.
Comments made at the meeting have left many of the public shocked and angry. Despite all councillors agreeing the remarks were “inappropriate,” the panel seems to have concluded the remarks were “trivial,” and “minor,” and “represented the views of a number of people in the ward.”
Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of Milton Keynes Council said: “The decision by the panel is utterly unexplainable. An independent review recommended a full investigation, and everyone on the panel agreed the remarks Cllr Baines made were unacceptable. Despite this, the panel has decided not to progress the issue to a full investigation and will apply no sanction. In effect it means the system has said he has done nothing wrong. I think we are now in a position where not only do the original comments by Cllr Baines bring the council into disrepute, this decision heaps further insult and hurt onto the BAME community. It is a disgraceful situation and something we will investigate to try and set right.”
Cllr Douglas McCall, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group said: “I am appalled at the decision of the sub-committee. Milton Keynes Council should be leading in the fight against racism. Comments by councillors that racist comments are a “trivial” matter are unacceptable. Councillors should be standing up to racism where it exists, not speaking up for it. I’m baffled by the decision, as the sub-committee seemed to agree that Cllr Baines had broken the rules, but then decided there was no case to answer. Some of the comments made at the hearing were themselves are hurtful, and a majority of the panel seems to have decided what level of racism is acceptable and that no sanction is required. It is inexplicable. The Liberal Democrats are anti-racist and we will look to have this decision reviewed.”