Suffolk Tory councillor suspended for reposting racist Facebook messages
PUBLISHED: 12:50 07 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:56 07 June 2020
One of the best-known Conservatives in Ipswich has been suspended by his party at both the county and borough councils after reposting racist messages on Facebook.
Robin Vickery has had the whip removed for 21 days after he reposted a message calling for BAME people – including London mayor Sadiq Khan and leading Labour MP Diane Abbott – to be deported and another comparing the reaction to the death of George Floyd with the murder of Lee Rigby.
His actions came on the same weekend as protestors gathered across the country to promote the Black Lives Matter movement.
Fusilier Rigby’s mother Lyn has called on people not to use his murder for political purposes and said he would have supported those protesting about Mr Floyd’s death.
Mr Vickery represents Castle Hill ward on Ipswich council and the Carlford division – which stretches from Westerfield to Earl Soham – on Suffolk County Council. An inquiry into his posts has been launched by the Conservative Party locally, by the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich association, and nationally.
He could face expulsion from the party if they find him guilty of reposting the messages.
Local MP Dr Dan Poulter said: “There is no place for racism or prejudice in public life. Robin Vickery has posted a number of images and comments which show poor judgement, and which individually and collectively appear to be racist.
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“The right course of action is for the matter to be fully investigated and I have passed across the messages to the Conservative Party for further investigation so that appropriate action can be taken.”
Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said party rules meant that there would have to be an inquiry to look into the allegation – and he would expect that to happen as soon as possible. He added: “I have, this morning, suspended Robin Vickery from our group pending the results of that investigation.”
Group leader at Ipswich Council Ian Fisher is also part of the party investigation – and said he expected the results to be published “within days.”
Mr Vickery said he was not aware the comments about deporting BAME people were in the thread when he reposted it on to his Facebook timeline and he did not know Fusilier Rigby’s mother had asked for her son’s name to be kept out of political campaigns.
He said: “If I have caused offence with these reposts I am very sorry. That was not my intention.”
Mr Vickery said he had already decided not to seek re-election to either council – his term of office at the county council is due to end next May and his borough seat is up for election in 2022.
As well as being a councillor, he is also a leading member of the Royal British Legion. He was chairman of the Ipswich branch during the World War One centenary commemorations and went to Christchurch Park on Saturday to ensure there was no damage to the town’s Cenotaph during the protest by Black Lives Matter campaigners.
His posts were retweeted by Labour borough councillors Alasdair Ross, a former soldier, and Carole Jones who both expressed particular concern about Mr Vickery’s reposting messages about Lee Rigby against the wishes of his family.
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