Update 2: Prestatyn councillor suspended from Labour party over Facebook post praising Adolf Hitler denies making comment
Update 1: Cllr Bob Murray, who represents Prestatyn South West on Denbighshire County Council has been suspended by the Labour party.
Earlier report: A post claiming “Hitler had the right idea” was made from the Facebook account of a Prestatyn councillor during a discussion about Travellers.
The post, from the account of Cllr Bob Murray, also asked “anyone got any gas cannisters?”
The comments were condemned by his fellow ward councillor, who had started the thread to explain the council’s “sensible response” to the arrival of a group of Travellers.
When the Local Democracy Reporting Service contacted Prestatyn member Cllr Murray, he gave “no comment” answers to the questions of whether he was responsible for the post and whether he would be resigning his seat.
The thread had been started by his fellow Prestatyn county councillor Paul Penlington.
Today Cllr Penlington, who is also a Labour member, said the post was “vile” and that he’d contacted council bosses immediately that he was alerted to the post.
He said: “On Wednesday, April 3, I put a post on Facebook, informing residents of Denbighshire council’s sensible response to a small group of travellers in my ward.
“I only stated the facts to avoid any misinterpretation as this can be a contentious subject for many people.
“On Thursday, later in the evening, a post appeared on the thread making a vile racist statement.
“The post was in the name of another councillor, fortunately, I saw it within five minutes of it being posted and I deleted it very quickly. I passed it on to the Labour group leader and Denbighshire council head of legal services immediately.
“It would seem that other people saw it before I deleted it and it has become the subject of several Facebook posts. I am absolutely nauseated by the post and quite upset really that my good name has been drawn into this.
Racism in all its forms is an increasing blight on our communities and absolutely not tolerated by me. I cannot comment on the details of the situation however other than to say I deleted it swiftly and passed it on to the appropriate people to address.”
Trudy Aspinwall, of Travelling Ahead, a Traveller, Roma and Gypsy rights group, called the post “appalling” and appealed to the Labour Party to take action.
She said: “These appalling comments published on an on-line public platform are a hate crime. We have reported it as such this morning and will also be calling on the Labour Party in Wales to take action.
“This casual acceptance of racism against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities cannot be tolerated any longer. It would be absolutely unacceptable to say this publicly about any other group, and it’s particularly concerning if this comes from a publicly-elected representative who has a role in decision making about local plans to improve services for this community.”
A spokesman for Denbighshire Council said: “The matter was referred to the council and we have since referred it to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales for consideration. We cannot comment further at this stage.”
The Labour Party has been asked to comment.
By Shane Brennan – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).