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Activist critical over Thanet councillor’s return to Tories

PUBLISHED: 09:14 13 October 2012 | UPDATED: 09:37 13 October 2012

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell

Archant

Peter Tatchell says Cllr Gregory’s readmission would “undermine compassionate efforts by David Cameron”

A leading human rights activist has voiced his concerns about a Thanet councillor returning to the Conservative group after he left a homophobic voicemail message on a fellow councillor’s phone.

Political campaigner Peter Tatchell said Cllr Ken Gregory should not be allowed back into the Thanet Tory party after he told independent bi-sexual councillor John Worrow “with a bit of luck, you’ll get Aids” back in July.

Cllr Gregory is suspended from the party for six months, but his imminent return has been condemned by gay right campaigners who have called on him to resign from his position.

Mr Tatchell said he shouldn’t be allowed to rejoin the Tories unless he made a full apology about the remarks he made.

He said the absence of a full expulsion would “undermine compassionate efforts by David Cameron” to make the Conservatives an inclusive party.

Peter Tatchell said: “In the absence of an apology, he shouldn’t be readmitted to the council group - and should be suspended from the Conservative party.

“If the Tories want to be taken seriously as a tolerant and compassionate party, they should have nothing to do with him until he says sorry.”

Cllr Gregory was suspended from the Conservative party in May after he received an official caution by police for malicious communications.

He hasn’t apologised for the incident as yet, and will retake his place in the party next month.

However, Mr Tatchell added: “Until he says sorry, many people will assume that Cllr Gregory stands by his offensive remarks.

“It is appalling that any elected public official would wish a potentially fatal disease on another human being - and then fail to apologise.”

A number of residents have called for the Garlinge Ward representative to stand down, but the victim has said it’s up to Cllr Gregory’s “conscience”.

Cllr Worrow said: “I do not think the people of Thanet want to be represented by someone who has been cautioned by police for saying homophobic hate abuse.

“If Cllr Gregory wanted to apologise to me and more importantly the people of Kent, he would have done it a month ago or so.”

However, the leader of the Thanet Conservative group Cllr Bob Bayford said everything had been done to rectify the situation, but admitted an apology was not necessary, and this was a “matter for Ken”.

He said: “The state of affairs is that Ken was suspended for six months, and he is expected to undergo some anger management training and counselling. At the end of that, he will be re-admitted.

“As far as I am concerned, we have taken the action that is available to us and Ken has agreed to do all of this.”

However, that wasn’t enough for Cllr Worrow: “I find it odd that someone goes on an anger management course is the right way with dealing with extremist views.

“Is it a case of dealing with them, or finding a way of how to hide them?”

Cllr Ken Gregory was unavailable for comment.

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