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UKIP euro candidate told to attend "equalities training"
A UKIP candidate who said traders should be allowed to refuse to serve whoever they like has been told she should attend “equalities training”.
Donna Edmunds, an MEP candidate and a Lewes District councillor, made the comments on an internet forum.
She said that “being a libertarian, I believe that all business owners, Christian, Muslim, gay, straight,should be allowed to withhold their services from whomever they chose whenever they chose. It’s their business. Why should they be forced to serve or sell to anyone?”
She later told The Argus she thought it would be OK for a business owner to refuse to serve someone for no other reason than being a woman or that owners should be allowed to refuse service to gay people.
The remarks drew fierce criticism with some labelling the comments as “horrendous”.
The EU parliamentary hopeful has now been advised to attend equality training by the council after a complaint.
But she said she will refuse to go, criticising the council for making the decision behind her back and not allowing her to put forward any defence.
She said the first time she heard about it was when she was told a panel meeting had taken place.
The council panel stated: “The panel recommends you attend equalities training for councillors to gain a better understanding of the council’s equality obligations.”
Coun Edmunds stood by her original comments.
She said: “I believe a Jewish person should be able to refuse to serve a neo-Nazi but the rules have to apply equally to everyone. I’m not condoning any discrimination of anyone.”
In an email sent to Catherine Knight, assistant director of corporate services at Lewes District Council, she added: “I am perfectly happy and content that I have not broken any equality legislation. I see no need for any ‘training’.
“I will not be attending equality training – or, as I call it – indoctrination. I will consider any further attempt by the council to make me attend to be nothing short of bullying. We do not live in a fascist state quite yet.”
The Barcombe and Hamsey councillor also confirmed she had launched an official complaint against the council over a press release on the initial comments.
A council spokesman said: “As a matter of course, the council offers regular training – including equalities training – to both staff and councillors. Whilst we strongly urge all councillors to attend the training provided, it is a matter for each individual councillor to decide what courses they go to.”
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