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Former policeman calls for judicial review into Brighton and Hove golliwog row
A former police officer claims a council breached the human rights of a councillor who was disciplined over her comments in support of golliwogs.
Stuart Bower has submitted legal papers to Brighton and Hove City Council calling for a judicial review into the authority’s disciplinary action taken against Councillor Dawn Barnett in November last year.
Mr Bower has made the move despite announcing he is to stand against Coun Barnett as a UKIP candidate in 2015.
He has labelled the whole process “a pointless waste of time” after council officials wrote back to him saying that the mandatory diversity training for all councillors initiated was not in fact mandatory.
The challenge is the latest development in the racism row which has rumbled on for six months since Coun Barnett spoke to The Argus in August.
She was brought before a standards hearing in December and found guilty of bringing the council into disrepute.
As part of the hearing, a panel of councillors recommended that all 54 councillors attend diversity workshops.
A number of councillors have already declared they have no intention of attending and the first of the session was cancelled because not enough members could attend.
In response to Mr Bower, senior solicitor Simon Court replied in a letter: “The word “mandatory” should not be taken literally as no member would ever be compelled against their will to attend training; nor would a candidate be prohibited from standing for election to become a member just because they objected to undergo such training.”
The letter then sets out in detail why the decision to discipline Coun Barnett was not contrary to article 10, seven, nine and six of the Human Rights Act and that Mr Bower’s claim is not conceded.
However Mr Bower said: “If a councillor is to be denied her right to freedom of speech, that affects every one of them.
“The only people who can sanction a councillor for their views is the electorate when they come to vote.
“The council can promote and encourage multi-cultural diversity, but what it cannot do is enforce diversity on people.
“It’s a pointless waste of time.”
Coun Barnett distanced herself from the legal move saying she wanted to move on from the whole incident.
She said: “I have not had anything to do with this. I just want to put the whole thing to bed and move on.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said: “The council confirms it has received correspondence from Mr Bower concerning his intention to seek a judicial review of the decision of the Standards Panel at its hearing on December 19 regarding Councillor Dawn Barnett.”
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