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Friday, 10 December 2010

Halesowen Tory suspended after racist joke gaffe (UK)

 A Halesowen Conservative councillor is out in the cold after e-mailing a racist joke to every Dudley councillor.

Hayley Green and Cradley South councillor Ken Turner suspended his party membership yesterday after an almighty row erupted over the joke, with even Conservative Central Office – which condemned the e-mail – entering the fray.

The offending e-mail immediately ignited a furious backlash, which forced Mr Turner to issue an apology and face investigations from Dudley Council and Tory head office.

Labour Cradley councillor Tim Crumpton, who reported Mr Turner to the authority’s standards committee, said: “With everything that’s happened over the last two years in our borough, with the English Defence League and the mosque, to have a senior councillor sending this is beyond the pale.”

The e-mail, described as “maybe the best joke of the year”, refers to a Somalian immigrant in London who asks a series of people if they are British before being told by an African lady all the British are probably “at work”.

The same joke saw two Conservative councillors in the Ribble Valley suspended after Tory chiefs said it “had no place in the Conservative Party”.

Mr Turner issued an apology describing the gag as “a mild attempt to relieve the present strife we are all enjoying”.

A member of Dudley Council said: “It’s appalling and racist. If, in 2010, a councillor sends this and thinks it is in any way funny, it shows elected representatives in a very sad light.”

Mr Turner, who is a member of the council’s information and communications technology working group, will now be quizzed by the standards committee, which has the power to sack him.

The councillors’ code of conduct says members should “promote equality by not discriminating unlawfully against any person, and by treating people with respect, regardless of their race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “We are happy that the issue has been handled locally and appropriately.

“Ken Turner has apologised for the insensitivity of his e-mail and has apologised for any offence it may have caused.

“He has voluntarily suspended his membership of the Conservative Party, has referred himself to the council’s standards committee and has agreed to attend a diversity awareness course at his own expense.”

Mr Turner sent the joke on December 2. The following day he circulated another e-mail saying: “I understand that it may have offended some of our members and I would apologise unreservedly and assure you all it was intended in a simply joking manner.”

When contacted by the News, Mr Turner refused to comment further.

Halesowen News.