Councillor on religious education committee suspended after sharing racist tweets about Muslims


A borough councillor who sits on a religious education committee is facing calls to resign after retweeting racist tweets about Muslims.

Coun Jeff Potts, of Solihull Borough Council, has been suspended by his own Conservative group for sharing the offensive and inflammatory rants on Twitter.

But it means he can still attend meeting as an independent.

He shared tweets calling for “all Muslims” to be deported and others with offensive statements about rape.

Coun Potts called it a “freedom of speech issue” and claimed he did not share or support the tweets, the Sunday Mercury reports.

Conservative Councillor Jeff Potts has been sending and re-tweeting incredibly offensive tweets

A retweet from Jeff Potts

One of the tweets shared by the councillor read: “Deport and repatriate all Muslims from the UK or watch terrorists kill innocent people for generations to come.”

He also retweeted a message reading: “You’ve clearly not experienced the Pakistani hospitality, having a daughter raped by men who think she’s ‘white trash’.”

Coun Potts, who sits as the local authority’s representative on the standing advisory committee on religious education, stressed he did not share or support the comments.

It was, he said, a “freedom of speech issue”.

That explanation has failed to satisfy council opposition leader James Burn who has demanded the Conservative’s resignation.

Some of the tweets that got Councillor Potts in trouble

The Green Party member said: “His position is untenable. When you start retweeting things about deporting all Muslims you are publicising views that are very close to crossing a legal line and encouraging hatred.

“I’m afraid to say I don’t think he has any other choice but to resign. By retweeting, you are spreading that view and information.

“I’m concerned about the tweets. I’m concerned this is a councillor on a committee advising on religious education, I’m concerned this is the same Conservative group who have only just been in trouble for a similar incident and did not act swiftly following a complaint about it.

“A resident brought this matter to my attention as they were very upset and told me he’d contacted Solihull Conservatives on their group email.”

Coun Potts sits as the local authority’s representative on the standing advisory committee on religious education

It is not the first time Solihull Council has been embroiled in a Twitter row

Just last month, Coun Ken Hawkins was banned from senior roles on the body following a tweet involving the Grenfall Tower disaster.

Coun Hawkins captioned a picture of protesters demanding justice: “Lets get ourselves a hangin!”

A Code of Conduct hearing banned the former mayor from holding a cabinet position for the remainder of the municipal year.

Now Solihull’s Conservative group face a fresh storm.

Above an August 31 tweet stating, “we wish all Muslims a blessed Eid ul-Adha”, Coun Potts posted: “Why?”

The incendiary comment “UK police covered-up THOUSANDS of girls raped/sold by the religion of peace” drew the following response: “Is anybody surprised?”

It is not the first time Solihull Council has been embroiled in a Twitter row

All the controversial comments have now been deleted.

Formerly a member of the Labour Party , Coun Potts, who represents the well-heeled, leafy ward of Knowle, has been on the Solihull authority since May, 2012. He is vice chairman of the council planning committee and also sits on the licensing committee, airport working party and safer Solihull board. He has an exemplary attendance record of 86 per cent.

He was keen to brush off the controversy, stating: “I have no comment on that at all. My public page states I don’t endorse retweets.”

Coun Potts did, however, explain that the tweets were briefly displayed as a matter of freedom speech, and he “certainly did not” agree with those views.

Sabir Hussain, trustee of the Solihull Muslim Community Association, voiced his “sadness” over the remarks that appeared on Coun Potts’ Twitter account.

He said: “I feel sorry for him because he is misguided and has shown narrow vision.

Coun Potts explained that the tweets were briefly displayed as a matter of freedom speech, and he “certainly did not” agree with those views

“There is, in any community, religion or sect, bad apples. The Muslim faith is not exempt from that. To retweet something that suggests all are like that is unfair.

“Retweeting something like that only inflames community relations that we have worked very hard to fuse together.

“Solihull is a very nice place to live. I have lived there for 35 years and have very good friends among various religions. We find it very comforting to relate to each other’s religions. We are all one together, regardless of colour and shape, and we are one very cohesive society.”

Bob Sleigh, leader of Solihull Council, was initially unaware of the growing controversy when he was contacted by a reporter.

But within hours he and colleagues on the Conservative Group had made the decision to suspend Coun Potts.

He told a reporter: “After you phoned, I rang Coun Potts for clarification and then told him he was suspended from the Conservative Group. I took the action because I believed it was the right action to take.”

A full investigation will now follow.



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