20th Jul, 2019

Solihull Councillor releases public apology as West Midlands Police announce investigation

Sarah Mason 4th Oct, 2017

SHAMED Solihull Councillor Jeff Potts has issued public apology over his offensive retweets as West Midlands Police announced it was investigating.

West Midlands Police have confirmed they have received a complaint following retweets on Twitter made by Councillor Jeff Potts.

The Knowle ward councillor who sat on a religious education committee was suspended following a formal complaints about a number of tweets that appeared on his social media account.

He is under investigation by Solihull Council and has been suspended from his roles on Council committees.

He is now listed as an independent Councillor.

He retweeted comments made by others including: “Deport and repatriate all Muslims from the UK or watch terrorists kill innocent people for generations to come.”

West Midlands Police said: “We can confirm that Solihull Police have received an allegation of hate crime. An appointment has been made with the complainant and enquiries are on-going.”

Under-fire Coun Potts apologised earlier this week and said his intentions were only to raise important issues that he felt needed discussion and he recognises the tweets should have been written more balanced than the ones he ‘stupidly’ displayed on his account.

In an email to The Observer Coun Potts said: “As a councillor who has served this borough for over twenty years, I feel that I owe our residents an apology and an explanation for injudicious tweets, as reported in this paper.

“Firstly, I would like to apologise to all who felt the material that I naively retweeted was offensive. My intention was only to raise important issues that I felt needed discussion.

“Over the summer I came across a number of stories in the national press and on television which gave the impression that the rule of law was sometimes being bypassed in favour of political correctness.

“This seemed to be the case in certain reported cases where children and young people are concerned.

“As a family man and former teacher, I was incensed by this as I feel that the protection of children and young teenagers is a primary responsibility of a civilised society.

“This led me to pass on a number of tweets and retweets which highlighted these issues.  Although the language and expression in the tweets were by no means balanced and impartial, I felt that their subject matter raised matters of grave concern.

“For example, I doubt if any right-minded person would support the sale of heroin to young people, because this leads to addiction and often to a slow and awful death.

“Equally, I doubt if anyone would agree that gangs should be allowed to sexually abuse young girls in this country. Our courts have sentenced men for such crimes. I realise that they are rogue, criminal elements whose behaviour should not be tolerated and certainly not here.

“These men have brought shame and disgrace on themselves and their country of origin but are well-distanced from the majority of law-abiding people.  I should have made this point clearly – this is something I now very much regret.

“Regarding the reported case of the little girl from a Christian background who was temporarily fostered by a Muslim family, I would only want what is best for the child. This is just common sense.

“Like everyone reading this, I had very strong feelings about the recent terrorist attacks in the U.K., particularly the Manchester Arena bombing when children and teenagers were deliberate targets.

“In a free society we should be allowed to discuss such matters as those raised above.

“We also need to find a sensible and practical way of dealing with the pressures of continued immigration on our towns and cities. For this we need constructive and workable proposals, not endless politicising.

“I recognise that tweets and retweets can be misinterpreted and should be written in a more balanced way than the ones I rather stupidly displayed on my Twitter account.

“I have spent my whole adult life working with children, or caring for them personally, or within my work as a councillor.  Discovering the cases outlined above, I let my passion get the better of me.

“This is one of the few times when my heart has over-ruled my head. This experience has left me feeling humbled. I hope that Solihull residents and anyone else affected can forgive me.

“Let us get on with making our country a safe and pleasant place for everyone who lives, works or studies here.”

There have been calls for Coun Potts to resign over the offensive tweets including from the Council’s Green Party leader, Coun James Burn and from Nick Stephens, the chair of Solihull and Meriden Labour Party.

Nick Stephens said: “Elected representatives have a duty to build good community relations of people of all faiths and none, whatever political differences there may be.

“However, Councillor Potts’ actions have acted to stir up racial conflict rather than bring people together and have damaged the good reputation of our Borough.

“For these reasons he should now take the sensible course of action and resign.”

For Coun Potts’ full apology see The Observer’s website.

Printing

We can provide all of your printing needs at competitive rates.

Property Finder 24/7

Search for properties in Worcestershire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands.

Digital Advertising

Advertise on the Solihull Observer to boost your online presence.

Online Editions

Catch up on your local news by reading our e-editions on the Solihull Observer.