Councillor banned and reprimanded after posting Islamophobic tweets

Solihull Borough Council’s Jeff Potts

Solihull Councillor Jeff Potts has been banned from holding a committee post, ordered to attend diversity training and reprimanded after retweeting Islamophobic messages.

Potts shared a number of offensive comments about Muslims including one which read: “Deport and repatriate all Muslims from the UK or watch terrorists kill innocent people for generations to come.”

He also shared a tweet from another account which commented: “Drug related.. mmm.. will wait on the verdict wonder if his name will be a good old fashioned British name.”

Solihull Council recieved 50 complaints concerning tweets, or retweets, that Coun Potts had posted.

Coun Potts was suspended from the Conservatives, from his role as vice-chairman of the council’s planning committee and from sitting as a Conservative on committees such as the licensing committee and Safer Solihull board while an investigation was carried out.

The Code of Conduct Hearing Panel issued recommended sanctions expected to be approved by council. These include Coun Potts is barred from serving on committees or holding any senior roles until the end of his term in 2020. The panel also imposed a formal censure – or reprimand.

After the meeting councillor James Burn, leader of Solihull Green Party, said: “This has been a shocking incident for all of us in Solihull. I am glad the council has taken a strong line and I am hopeful we can all move forward together towards a truly inclusive and welcoming borough.”

Imran Shah from MPACUK, who ran a campaign against Jeff Potts, added: “The sanctioning of Jeff Potts over, specifically, Islamophobic content is significant. It shows that even in a society where Islamophobia is normalised in all levels of society, intelligent and strategic campaigning can make tangible differences. It also reinforces the message that hate speech is not free speech, which we welcome.”

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