Ex-Yorkshire mayor in racism storm over anti-Muslim and ‘Romania gypsy’ tweets

Heather Venter
Heather Venter
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A FORMER Yorkshire mayor faces being reported to the police over alleged racism and anti-Muslim comments on social media.

Councillor Heather Venter, who was mayor of Driffield in 2013 and 2014, supported controversial posts on Twitter, but denies harbouring racist views.

Heather Venter with Driffield questionaires

Heather Venter with Driffield questionaires

One tweet she ‘liked’ said: “Shouldn’t employ Muslims. Nothing but trouble.”

Another tweeted on April 30, read: “Sadly, looks like Romania’s Gypsy begger/pickpockets will b [sic] soon replaced by African Muslims.”

She also tweeted a link to an article by a neo-Nazi website that read: “White South Africans march in London against white genocide.”

The controversy comes after a website accused the councillor of racism for her Twitter activity.

Cllr Heather Venter and some of the Tweets she 'liked'

Cllr Heather Venter and some of the Tweets she 'liked'

George McManus of the Beverley and Holderness Labour Party. said the tweets ‘liked’ by Coun Venter were “designed to cause offence”.

He added: “There’s no room for remarks like these in a civilised society. I am particularly concerned that this person occupies a position of authority as a councillor and that this impacts badly on the reputation of the good people of Driffield. They are in my opinion designed to cause offence and to cause racial and religious hatred.

“I intend to ask Humberside Police to consider whether or not they constitute an offence under section 127(1) of the 2003 Communications Act.”

Coun Venter has denied the allegation and said: “I can’t understand it because I’m not racist.”

Cllr Heather Venter and some of the Tweets she 'liked'

Cllr Heather Venter and some of the Tweets she 'liked'

She told The Yorkshire Post she could not remember the tweet about employing Muslims, and said: “I just can’t understand how I would have favourited it. I can’t remember doing that. I like Muslims. I’m pro Palestinian for God’s sake.”

But she defended the tweet about Romanians. She said: “It’s happening. It doesn’t mean I don’t like them. Yes they are coming, it’s a fact. You have to see things as they are. Certainly there’s no malice behind it.”

On the South African tweet, she said: “I lived in South Africa. There was a protest, a march in London, about white genocide, because farmers are getting murdered every week.”

Coujn Venter has 59,800 likes and says Twitter had been her “lifeline” since her serious illness, especially last couple of months when she had been housebound.

Cllr Heather Venter and some of the Tweets she 'liked'

Cllr Heather Venter and some of the Tweets she 'liked'

She added: “It beggars belief I have 59,800 likes - doesn’t it make you think it is a concerted effort to get at me?”

She said she was being called a Nazi on Facebook: “It’s all over Facebook apparently. It said I was a Nazi and I should be made to resign. I could ask the police whether it is an offence that someone local has said I am a Nazi. It’s a two way thing. I could be accusing them of libel, assassination of character. I just find it all pathetic.”

The former mayor moved back to the UK in 1998, having lived in South Africa for a number of years with her South African husband.

During her time there, she said she took pity on out-of-work African men, by providing them with food.

She added: “When you see a man and all they’ve got is their pride - they’ve got nothing, absolutely nothing - and for a man to come and stand at your gate and beg for food, you feel for them.

“My gardener would stand every day waiting to be picked up for work and if they didn’t work, they didn’t eat.

Cllr Heather Venter and some of the Tweets she 'liked'

Cllr Heather Venter and some of the Tweets she 'liked'

“I used to give him chicken and stuff like that.”

And when asked about her ‘liking’ a Tweet that attributed knife crime in London to black people, she said: “That’s a sad undeniable fact. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like blacks. I have a lot of black friends.”

Claire Binnington, clerk of Driffield Town Council: “We’ve made the person who made us aware of this to contact standards at East Riding Council, which is the procedure for people who have complaints. She does make clear on Twitter that she speaks for herself and not the town council.”