Councillor in race row video storm

editorial image

TOWN hall chiefs have reported one of their councillors to the police.

It follows a threat by an anti-Nazi group to make an official complaint about Coun Gareth Fairhurst’s conduct which they claim has breached the national Code of Conduct.

Wigan’s Hope Not Hate claim that Coun Fairhurst – who denies any wrongdoing – has breached Local Government watchdog rules about councillor behaviour by posting a link to an offensive video (pictured above) featuring BNP boss Nick Griffin on a Wigan community website.

Wigan Council chief executive Donna Hall today said she had no option but to report the matter to police.

He said: “The council has received complaints regarding the posting of a video on a local website.

“We have an established procedure for dealing with complaints against Councillors and any complaints regarding this issue will be dealt with under this procedure.

“The police have also been informed of the matter and will consider whether any action is required.

“The council deplores any action which might increase racial tension and will take any such matter very seriously.”

Wigan anti racism group Hope Not Hate - formally Wigan and Leigh United Against Racism - claim that puts the outspoken councillor in breach of the rule-book now governing their behaviour.

They will be asking Wigan’s watchdog standards committee to examine whether Coun Fairhurst has breached the Code of Conduct with actions that “damages the reputation of the authority, “failing to treat people with respect” and “using their position improperly, to their own or someone else’s advantage.”

The video, which has also been posted on video sharing site You Tube by a shadowy splinter of the BNP, makes a number of vile claims about Asian people and asylum seekers.

Coun Fairhurst today insisted that he “wasn’t the least surprised” by Hope Not Hate’s action and insisted his online activity was as an individual citizen, not as a councillor.

He said: “When somebody goes on this website or any other such community website, they go on in a personal capacity and I wasn’t using my council computer for any of these postings, but my personal laptop.

“Even though I have put Cllr Gareth Fairhurst at the top, that poster may not even have been me for all this Labour quango know, because that is how these forums work. I could sign up as the Leader Lord Smith if I wanted to so there isn’t any significance to that title at the top of the posting.

“I was there in my own personal capacity purely as Gareth Fairhurst, not as a councillor.

“The Standards Committee only have a remit for business which a councillor carries out while he or she is acting as a councillor in their official capacity, not as an individual making a posting from his home on his own PC on a community website at 1.45am in the morning.”

A spokesman for Hope Not Hate said: “This video isn’t funny or entertaining and it disturbs me that anybody could believe it is, never mind a councillor.

“Whatever your views of asylum, this piece of vicious garbage should play no place in the debate or as a vehicle for discussion about a very sensitive issue on a Wigan website.”