Afzal Amin, the hopeful Tory Election candidate from Dudley who was suspended on Friday night for plotting with the English Defence League (EDL) to stir up racial hatred, has responded to the Mail on Sunday’s expose.
The following statement was posted on Amin’s website yesterday:
“Today’s allegations are part of a much wider story which has been grossly misrepresented and present an inaccurate picture of the reality of what was happening. The Mail on Sunday has provided small snippets of over 27 hours of sensitive meetings between Tommy Robinson and I which have led to a manipulation of events.
While the meetings were intended to be private and discreet, I made sure I involved Chief Superintendent Chris Johnson from the start and I made clear, which is evident in the recordings, that I refused to do anything illegal.
During a time of heated tensions between various communities in our country, it’s vital that we tackle these problems and take difficult, sometimes uncomfortable, steps. The potential for inter communal violence has become a real threat to the destabilisation of our country and we must prevent this at all costs.
It’s in this context that, for the past year, I was conducting discussion with Tommy Robinson who remains the leader of the EDL, to prevent further inter communal tensions and violence. Robinson presented himself in tears regarding his mother’s illness and the plight of his children and I opened up to him recognising that no man should be beyond redemption. At the second meeting it was Robinson who proposed the idea of staging a march at our third meeting, this was a surprise to me and after some discussion I saw some merit in the potential to build bridges through negotiation and so I agreed it was worth discussing further. I recognised this as an opportunity to promote better community cohesion between various communities, particularly in Dudley because it would lead to face to face discussions between communities and an increase in awareness of the other. It would serve as a confidence building measure.
Politics requires an amount of bravery and using my experience as a strategist in Afghanistan, negotiating between pro-Taliban militias and the US military, I decided to use the same tactics to improve community relations here in my own country between the EDL and Muslim communities. While the discussions were sensitive, I informed Chief Superintendent Johnson, who was supportive of my plans of resolving very violent tensions through face to face dialogue, and he was aware of subsequent meetings between the EDL and members of the Dudley Muslim community.
The final two meetings were recorded and are a gross misrepresentation of the reality. This does not surprise me that some journalists can manipulate vulnerable unemployed people in this way. Robinson has been pursuing me for financial support since June 2014, I have not given him or any of his associates any money or any other support. I emphatically said we could not pay anyone and that it would illegal to do so. He pushed the issue but I still did not agree to and over any money.
The people who support EDL are a very angry group of disenfranchised British people who are excluded from almost every aspect of our society. However, what they are campaigning against, almost all Muslims agree upon: extremism, terrorism, sexual abuse of children or ghettoisation of communities. However, within all of this, what’s missing is any real contact between the EDL and Muslim communities. I believe a progressive dialogue between both communities is the way forward. And I had hoped as the MP of such diverse and divided community I could voice the concerns of people locally and nationally.
This was altruistic, community service work. Instead of these private discussions leading to something fruitful, Robinson clearly wishes to further damage community cohesion instead of working to prevent conflict as he had originally presented himself as doing. I am saddened that the Mail on Sunday has furthered this agenda.”
You can see Amin’s brief interview with the BBC, where he repeats the above defence.
You can tweet your thoughts directly to Afzal Amin on Twitter @Afzal4Dudley