Fury over racist comment decision

CAMPAIGNERS have called for a county councillor to resign after a tribunal ruled he made a racially offensive comment.As revealed in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star, an Adjudication Panel for England decided that Keith Myers-Hewitt had made a racist remark to a member of staff at Stowmarket Library.

CAMPAIGNERS have called for a county councillor to resign after a tribunal ruled he made a racially offensive comment.

As revealed in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star, an Adjudication Panel for England decided that Keith Myers-Hewitt had made a racist remark to a member of staff at Stowmarket Library.

But the panel concluded Mr Myers-Hewitt, the Conservative county councillor for Stowmarket South and a member of Stowmarket Town Council, had not broken a code of conduct, leaving campaigners infuriated.

Hamil Clarke, chairman of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality, said it was dismayed that Mr Myers-Hewitt, who lives in Stowmarket, had not been punished and made an example of.

Mr Clarke felt racial incidents were not being taken seriously enough by many authorities and the comments made by Mr Myers-Hewitt had been derogatory and that an example should have been set such as a period of suspension.

He said: “If someone in public life made such comments, the general public will think they can do it. He should have resigned from public life.”

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Mr Myers-Hewitt, a Korean War veteran, appeared before the Adjudication Panel after a complaint was made to the Standards Board for England about the comment he made in Stowmarket Library.

Ursula Scott, an inquiry officer at the library, told the panel that Mr Myers-Hewitt had visited shortly after it opened on July 7 last year.

She said there were few people in the library at the time, but there were two Afro-Caribbean men and an Asian couple using the computers.

Mrs Scott said Mr Myers-Hewitt had glanced towards the people on the computer and said: “Have aliens landed or is it an invasion of darkies? I suppose they are e-mailing their friends.”

Although Mr Myers-Hewitt said he had no clear recollection of what had happened in the library that day he claimed to have paid an earlier visit when it had been full and made reference to “the dark side” and “aliens” in a science fiction context following a recent discussion with his son on the subject.

The panel said his evidence had been “vague, contrived and contradicted”,but ruled that he had not breached Stowmarket Town Council's code of conduct by bringing his office or authority into disrepute and would not face further action.

A Suffolk County Council spokeswoman said it was waiting to see the panel's full judgment before making any comment.

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