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Racist Solihull councillor Jeff Potts to resign

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This petition is a call for Coun Potts to resign as a Solihull councillor due to racist remarks on his twitter.

A councillor who sits on a religious education committee has sparked outrage after retweeting a slew of offensive and inflammatory anti-Muslim rants.

Solihull Borough Council’s Jeff Potts has now been suspended by his own Conservative group.

The move means he can still attend meetings - but as an independent.

There have also been calls for Coun Potts to resign after he re-tweeted comments made by other individuals such as: “Deport and repatriate all Muslims from the UK or watch terrorists kill innocent people for generations to come.”

He also retweeted: “You’ve clearly not experienced the Pakistani hospitality, having a daughter raped by men who think she’s ‘white trash’.

When approached by our reporter the long-standing councillor, who sits as the local authority’s representative on the standing advisory committee on religious education, stressed he did not share or support the comments.

It was, he said, a “freedom of speech issue”.

That explanation has failed to satisfy council opposition leader James Burn who has demanded the Conservative’s resignation.

“His position is untenable,” said the Green Party member. “When you start retweeting things about deporting all Muslims you are publicising views that are very close to crossing a legal line and encouraging hatred.

“I’m afraid to say I don’t think he has any other choice but to resign. By retweeting, you are spreading that view and information.

“I’m concerned about the tweets. I’m concerned this is a councillor on a committee advising on religious education, I’m concerned this is the same Conservative group who have only just been in trouble for a similar incident and did not act swiftly following a complaint about it.

“A resident brought this matter to my attention as they were very upset and told me he’d contacted Solihull Conservatives on their group email.”

It is not the first time Solihull Council has been embroiled in a twitter row. Just last month, Coun Ken Hawkins was banned from senior roles on the body following a tweet involving the Grenfall Tower disaster.

He captioned a picture of protesters demanding justice: “Lets get ourselves a hangin!”

A Code of Conduct hearing banned the former mayor from holding a cabinet position for the remainder of the municipal year.

Now Solihull’s Conservative group face a fresh storm.

Above an August 31 tweet stating, “we wish all Muslims a blessed Eid ul-Adha”, Coun Potts posted: “Why?”

The incendiary comment “UK police covered-up THOUSANDS of girls raped/sold by the religion of peace” drew the following response: “Is anybody surprised?”

All the controversial comments have now been deleted.

Formerly a member of the Labour Party, Coun Potts, who represents the well-heeled, leafy ward of Knowle, has been on the Solihull authority since May, 2012. He is vice chairman of the council planning committee and also sits on the licensing committee, airport working party and safer Solihull board. He has an exemplary attendance record of 86 per cent.

e was keen to brush off the controversy when interviewed by our reporter, stating: “I have no comment on that at all. My public page states I don’t endorse retweets.” That means he does not support the views stated.

Coun Potts did, however, explain that the tweets were briefly displayed as a matter of freedom speech. He “certainly did not” agree with those views.

Sabir Hussain, trustee of the Solihull Muslim Community Association, voiced his “sadness” over the remarks that appeared on Coun Potts’ twitter account.

He said: “I feel sorry for him because he is misguided and has shown narrow vision.

“There is, in any community, religion or sect, bad apples. The Muslim faith is not exempt from that. To retweet something that suggests all are like that is unfair.

“Retweeting something like that only inflames community relations that we have worked very hard to fuse together.

“Solihull is a very nice place to live. I have lived there for 35 years and have very good friends among various religions. We find it very comforting to relate to each other’s religions. We are all one together, regardless of colour and shape, and we are one very cohesive society.”

When the Mercury first contacted Bob Sleigh, leader of Solihull Council, he was unaware of the growing controversy.

But within hours of our call, he and colleagues on the Conservative Group had made the decision to suspend Coun Potts.

He said: “After you phoned, I rang Coun Potts for clarification and then told him he was suspended from the Conservative Group. I took the action because I believed it was the right action to take.”

A full investigation will now follow.


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