Tory council leader suspended for retweeting post describing Tommy Robinson as a “patriot”

Andrew Bowles

A Conservative council leader has been suspended after he retweeted a post describing the anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson as a “patriot”. 

Andrew Bowles, the Swale Borough Council leader, retweeted an image opposing Robinson’s ban from Facebook and Instagram.

The news of Mr Bowles’s suspension was first reported on Channel 4 News on Tuesday 5 March but the councillor said he had not “heard from the party”.

However, the Conservative Campaign Headquarters confirmed the news yesterday but have not commented on when the suspension occurred.

The tweet describing Robinson as a “patriot” is still on Mr Bowles’s Twitter profile.

He said he was “supporting the process of free speech”.

Mr Bowles told the Mirror: “As an old fashioned liberal with a small ‘l’, I believe totally in free speech, censorship is a slippery path.

“I believe any views, particularly the more obnoxious they are, need the oxygen of publicity so the public can judge them.

“I wasn’t supporting him, I was supporting the process of free speech.”

On Tuesday, 14 Conservative party members were suspended after posting Islamophobic or racist comments on Facebook.

Comments found on a Facebook group FOR Tory members who supported MP Jacob Rees-Mogg included calling for Muslims to be “turfed out of public office” and for the government to “get rid of all mosques”.

The former chair of the party, Baroness Warsi, said she had spent two years trying to convince the Conservatives of the “institutional” problem of Islamophobia within the party.

She said: “When institutions fail to respond proactively and hide behind bureaucracy and process and do not respond within a timely fashion to these matters then there is an institutional problem.”

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