October 30, 2007

Councillor cleared over 'offensive song' stunt

A Burnley councillor filmed a fellow British National Party representative singing an offensive' song outside the office of a high-profile Asian MP.

Councillor Derek Dawson, Gannow's BNP ward member, was reported to the Standards Board of England by Burnley-born Shahid Malik, who is Dewsbury's MP, for his part in the publicity stunt. But the board has cleared Coun Dawson of any wrongdoing as he had not been acting in his capacity of a councillor at the time of the incident, which was later released for broadcast on the BNP's internet site.

Mr Malik, who was not present at the time, said that his staff had been intimidated by the song, Saville Town, which claims that the Dewsbury district, mainly populated by the Asian community, was rife with drug dealers and paedophiles. The MP, who is Britain's first Muslim minister, also claimed that filming had taken place inside his offices.

But an investigation by the standards board has cleared both Coun Dawson, and the person he was filming, Coun Colin Auty, a member of Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council, of bringing their authority or office into disrepute.

Coun Dawson has now made a Freedom of Information request over the cost of the six-month investigation. He said: "I had no doubt about the outcome of the inquiry. Anyone with any common sense could see that there was no malice intended. It was all harmless. All of the words in the song are true - they were in newspaper clippings,"

Both councillors had claimed they were acting in a private capacity during their performance and filming of the song. Previously Coun Auty had been taken to the same watchdog by Mr Malik and been cleared, on similar grounds.

"The video was just a publicity stunt," added Coun Dawson, who said that only one verse of the song was performed outside the MP's office.

The final verse refers to drug problems and allegations of paedophilia in that area Dewsbury but Coun Dawson could not recall if it was this section of the song which was used.

In an official ruling on the latest case, a Standards Board of England official says: "The ethical standards officer concluded that Coun Dawson was not acting in his official capacity or performing his functions as a councillor when he filmed outside Mr Malik's office for BNPtv. Consequently, the ethical standards officer could not examine Coun Dawson's conduct any further in relation to this incident, and so could only find that there was no evidence of a breach of the code of conduct."

The inquiry also ruled that there had been no attempt to film inside the premises. Similar findings were made in respect of the separate complaint against Coun Auty.

Police did attend the filming, following a complaint, but no statements were taken and no further action taken, according to the standards board.

Coun Gordon Birtwistle, leader of Burnley council, said "trying to create racial disharmony" by singing an offensive song in a mainly Asian area was "not acceptable at all".

Coun Dawson was elected to represent the borough council in May 2006 and forms part of a four-strong BNP group.

This is Lancashire


Anonymous said...

When is the Standards Board actually going to get a backbone?

Miss Funnypenny said...

One would assume the BNP are stooges for MI5 to shore up the war on terror, allowing them to escape justice.