Councillor Roger Taylor: Stephen Lawrence Inquiry a "joke"
The prominent racial justice and civil liberties organisation, JUST West Yorkshire, are shocked and appalled by the response of a Yorkshire Councillor Roger Taylor to a recent article they had written following the Hillsborough Panel’s findings. Ratna Lachman, the director of Just West Yorkshire shares the incident.
On 16th September 2012, JUST West Yorkshire received an email from Conservative Councillor Roger Taylor who represents the Northowram and Shelf ward in Calderdale. The email was in response to an article published by JUST West Yorkshire on 13th September 2012 in which we supported the Hillsborough families' call for the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, Norman Bettison to resign and face criminal prosecution.
The Hillsborough Independent Panel uncovered that victims’ families had been denied justice for 23 years because police officers had lied and the Report also highlighted that 41 victims could have been saved. JUST published its statement in response to the findings that key witness evidence had been doctored and victims had been unjustly blamed for the tragedy. Councillor Taylor’s reference to the Hillsborough findings as “overloaded with politically correct language” demeans the memories of victims who died in this tragedy.
Below is a copy of Mr. Taylor’s email to JUST, which raises serious questions over his role as an elected representative. There are standards of public decorum and codes of conduct that councillors should observe (see footnote). JUST has been receiving offensive emails from Councillor Taylor since the 8th August 2011 that have been racist and Islampahobic in their tone and content. They have included statements like:
“Most acts of terrorism are committed by Muslims. I agree there are many minor “terrorist” groups but they don’t worry me just as much.”
“We know the vast number of vile and hatred riddled rioters were black or non-white.”
We are extremely concerned that Councillor Taylor’s dismissal of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report as “a joke” not only offends the memory of Stephen Lawrence, but also dismisses his family’s battle for justice.
Below is the full content of the email sent by Councillor Taylor to JUST West Yorkshire:
"So is your ultra-left organization claiming that the police actually pushed into the terraces and suffocated the victims? Are you telling me that this report is not overloaded with politically correct language rather like the Stephen Lawrence "enquiry" (a joke in itself) was?
You are not fit to tie Sir Norman Bettison's shoe laces (I was on the WYPA for nearly three years by the way) so how dare you call for his resignation.
As racist and anti-American Muslims once again rail against the west with their vile language of death to infidels, you choose to ignore that and concentrate on Sir Norman.
What a bunch you really are. If I thought you were getting tax-payers' money I would be the first to secure its removal!"
Both the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report and the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report are seminal as they enable the restitution of justice to families and communities who have been victims of institutional failures.
Mr. Taylor’s comments show a callous disregard for the plight of Hillsborough Families who fought a 23-year long campaign for the truth to emerge. As a Conservative councillor Mr. Taylor must be aware that his own political party leader, the Prime Minister apologised for the double injustice that had been left uncorrected for so long. The West Yorkshire Police Authority (WYPA), - which he says he was a member - has also referred Mr. Bettison to the Independent Police Complaint’s Commission.
Councillor Taylor compounds the offence by undermining the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report. It demonstrates a total disregard for the plight of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) murder victims whose cases have not been properly investigated due to institutionalised racism within the police service. Although Mr. Taylor might like to consider the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry a “joke,” the Macpherson Report was a defining moment in British race relations. It delivered a damning assessment of the "institutional racism" within the Metropolitan police and policing generally. It made 70 recommendations many aimed specifically at improving police attitudes to racism; and, stressed the importance of a rapid increase in the numbers of Black and Asian police officers. The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry has left a profound and lasting legacy and for it to be undermined by Mr. Taylor in this way is unbecoming of a holder of public office.
Following Mr. Taylor’s email to JUST, we have written to Mr. Taylor to ask him if he has sent similar offensive emails to politicians, ministers, justice groups and members of the press and media who have also asked for the Chief Constable’s resignation and criminal prosecution.
In response to Mr. Taylor’s deeply offensive Islamaphobic comments, we have written to clarify that JUST does not cover international news hence his allegations are irrelevant in the context of our work.
In the interest of public accountability JUST West Yorkshire has responded to Councillor Taylor as well as copying the Leader of Calderdale Council, Councillor Timothy Swift, the Conservative Leader Councillor Stephen Baines and the Tory Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell MP expressing our grave concerns over Councillor Taylor’s unprofessional conduct as a holder of public office. JUST hopes that the matter will be investigated and Councillor Taylor will be censured for his unprofessional conduct in public office.
As a registered charity promoting racial justice, civil liberties and human rights we believe that our work has wide support not just regionally but also nationally and internationally and we intend to continue highlighting injustices wherever they may exist.
The Code of Conduct for Council Employees makes very clear the responsibilities of a council employee in the performance of their duties. These include impartiality and objectivity, political neutrality, respect for others, equality and diversity. The codes specifically state that local government employees are expected to give the highest possible standard of service to the public and must treat others with respect, not discriminate unlawfully against any person and treat everyone professionally.
Code 5.3 states: All employees are required to treat colleagues and the public in a fair and equitable way, avoiding unfair discrimination in any form and anything that would demean, distress or offend other people.
Code 5.6: You must not harass or discriminate against people you meet in the course of work.