Answers sought over Tory return for suspended Solihull councillor Jeff Potts - after Muslim tweets row - The Solihull Observer

Answers sought over Tory return for suspended Solihull councillor Jeff Potts - after Muslim tweets row

Solihull Editorial 23rd May, 2019 Updated: 24th May, 2019   0

OPPOSITION parties in Solihull are demanding answers after a councillor suspended over offensive tweets about Muslims was accepted back into the council’s ruling Conservative group.

Solihull Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors are set to send a joint letter outlining their concerns to newly elected council leader, councillor Ian Courts.

The reinstatement of Knowle Councillor Jeff Potts – who was suspended two years ago after he re-tweeted controversial comments on Muslims and immigration – was roundly criticised by opposition councillors.

And in the draft letter – seen by the Solihull Observer – opposition councillors ask for assurances that Coun Potts has renounced the views endorsed on his Twitter page – which are still there despite the furore.

They also demand to know exactly what kind of diversity training he received, and whether the fact the re-tweets can still be viewed influenced the decision of those who voted in a secret ballot to reinstate him.

As we reported, Coun Courts last week insisted Coun Potts had complied with sanctions, had admitted his mistakes and undergone extensive training.

He said Coun Potts’ actions were wrong and reprehensible but that he had been dealt with ‘appropriately’.

The draft joint letter states: “If Coun Potts has not met the conditions imposed by your own party for reintroduction, and while his racist commentary remains available online, he surely should not be sitting as a member of your group and the people of Solihull require an explanation as to why he has been welcomed back.

“Equally, if Coun Potts has indeed renounced his views and completed the required diversity training, then we accept he is entitled to resume his place in your group.

“It is astonishing to find that his Twitter handle is still live as of the date of this letter, and still carries the same offensive material as in 2017.

“The material on this account needs to be removed from the public domain.”

His re-acceptance came only 12 days after the Conservatives narrowly avoided losing overall control of Solihull Council in the local elections.

The Conservatives lost five seats, leaving them with 26 elected members – and only a one seat advantage over all other councillors combined.

Coun Potts return to the Conservative group – from being an ‘independent’ councillor – increased the group’s overall majority to three.

A petition launched at the end of 2017 calling for Coun Potts’ resignation had reached nearly 3,000 signatures.

After being suspended in September 2017 following a probe, the former teacher was also suspended from the national Conservative party, as well as being forced to become an independent councillor outside the ruling Tory group.

But as we revealed Coun Potts was welcomed back into the national Conservative Party in November last year amid allegations of ‘Islamaphobia’ levelled against elected officials nationally.

Coun Potts shared a number of extreme comments tweeted by other people about Muslims including one which stated: “Deport and repatriate all Muslims from the UK or watch terrorists kill innocent people for generations to come.”

Coun Potts has publicly apologised, which opponents say fell short of him renouncing his views.

We have contacted the Conservative group and await a response.


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