West Yorkshire Tory councillor suspended over 'Islamophobic' Facebook posts

Roger Taylor, Conservative for Northowram and Shelf, Calderdale Council election count 2019. Photo: JPI Media
Roger Taylor, Conservative for Northowram and Shelf, Calderdale Council election count 2019. Photo: JPI Media
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A West Yorkshire councillor has been suspended by the Conservative Party after Islamophobic comments made on Facebook were exposed in a damning dossier.

Roger Taylor, who represents Northowram and Shelf on Calderdale Council, was one of 25 sitting and former Tory councillors included in documents which suggested they had posted or endorsed Islamophobic and racist material online.

In one post he questioned why British Muslim journalist and author Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was in the UK.

In another he shared a post which compared Muslims who did not speak out against terrorism to Germans who did not speak out against Nazis.

The Conservative Party said Mr Taylor had been suspended, along with any others named in the list who were party members.

"The swift action we take on not just anti-Muslim discrimination, but discrimination of any kind is testament to the seriousness with which we take such issues," a spokeswoman said.

"The Conservative Party will never stand by when it comes to prejudice and discrimination of any kind.

"That's why we are already establishing the terms of an investigation to make sure that such instances are isolated and robust processes are in place to stamp them out as and when they occur."

It is not the first time Mr Taylor has been suspended by the party over controversial comments.

In 2012 a private email to campaign group Just showed Mr Taylor called the Hillsborough report “politically correct” and the Stephen Lawrence inquiry “a joke”.

It said: “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 [Bettison].”

Mr Taylor said at the time he sent the email in a personal capacity, not as a councillor, but he was still investigated by the council’s standards committee.

The disclosure will increase pressure on Boris Johnson to hold an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party, rather than a broader investigation into prejudice within its ranks.

Shadow Equalities Minister and Bradford West Labour candidate Naz Shah said: "The Conservative Party is rife with Islamophobia, racism and bigotry from top to bottom, but we have no faith that Boris Johnson will do anything about it.

"Johnson's comments about Muslim women looking like 'bank robbers' and 'letter boxes' were linked to a 375 per cent rise in anti-Muslim hate crime, and polls show a majority of Conservative Party members hold Islamophobic views.

"Boris Johnson must commit to a full independent inquiry into Islamophobia and stop pretending it doesn't exist in his party."

While Tory peer Baroness Warsi, who is from Dewsbury, said the party had a "serious and deep problem with Islamophobia".

She claimed the party is failing to deal with the problem "institutionally" and accused it of being "dismissive" of the issue four years after problems were first brought to light.

Mr Taylor was contacted for comment.