Racist Claim as Mayor-Elect is Barred
Simon de Bruxelles – The Times Friday June 4, 2004
Like 'Anti-Semitism', accusations of 'racism' are often used to smear those who wont tow the line. Read the following and judge for yourself: has the Lord Mayor elect of Swansea really expressed any 'racist' views? Or has he uncovered some rather dubious loyalties, and maybe even corruption, at the very heart of Prime Minister's office? Ed.
The Lord Mayor-elect of Swansea has been barred from office after criticising the Government’s immigration policy.
The decision to replace the long-serving councillor, Richard Lewis, was taken after complaints about allegedly racist remarks made in an election leaflet were referred to the local government ombudsman.
In the leaflet, sent to all homes in his Gower constituency this month, Councillor Lewis described a meeting he had in Cardiff with the British High Commissioner for Bangladesh.
He wrote: “I asked him how he got his job and to my surprise I learnt he had worked for Tony Blair in the Cabinet Office at 10 Downing Street.
“He went on to inform me that last year his office in Bangladesh had issued 38,000 visas to his fellow countrymen to legitimately live in the UK. I am sure he is a very talented man; however, I do wonder where his loyalties lie . . . to Bangladesh or to Britain.”
Mr Lewis, who sits as an Independent on the county council and is currently deputy lord mayor, had been due to be inaugurated at a banquet in the Brangwyn Hall in Swansea on June 18. The ceremony has been postponed to a later date when an Independent councillor, Margaret Smith, will be sworn in instead.
The complaint about Mr Lewis’s allegedly racist comments was made jointly by all five political groups on the council. A statement said: “We believe it would be inappropriate for Councillor Lewis to be elected lord mayor of Swansea while he is the subject of a complaint to the ombudsman.
“These are very serious allegations which touch directly on the nature of the office of lord mayor. It is only fair to all concerned that councillor Lewis is not elected mayor at this time.”
Mr Lewis denied that there was anything wrong with the statement. He said: “All I have done is report the figures and a statement of fact.
“Whether people like the facts or not is not my concern and whether I am suitable to be lord mayor or not has nothing do with it. What I have said I stand by and I feel it is a justified and full statement.”
Last updated 06/06/2004