Labour councillor in ‘Hitler had right idea’ Facebook row


Prestatyn mayor Bob Murray

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Bob Murray declined to comment when approached by BBC Wales

A Labour councillor has been referred to a watchdog over a Facebook post saying “Hitler had the right idea” about travellers.

The post was sent from the account of Prestatyn’s Bob Murray.

One of his colleagues said the message was “vile” and a Gypsy rights group has called for Labour to take action.

Denbighshire County Council said it had referred the matter to the Public Service Ombudsman. The Labour Party has been asked to comment.

Mr Murray, a councillor for the Prestatyn South West ward, told BBC Wales he had no comment to make.

The comment, circulated on Twitter, said: “Hitler had the right idea”.

He then appeared to ask if anyone had any “gas canisters”.

It had been posted on a Facebook thread started by another Prestatyn councillor, Paul Penlington, about a group of travellers.

Mr Penlington, also a Labour member, said the post was “vile” and contacted council bosses immediately when he was alerted to the post, which he deleted.

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The comment was deleted, according to Mr Murray’s colleague

He told the Local Democracy Service: “I put a post on Facebook informing residents of Denbighshire council’s sensible response to a small group of travellers in my ward.

“I only stated the facts to avoid any misinterpretation as this can be a contentious subject for many people.”

Mr Penlington said: “On Thursday, later in the evening, a post appeared on the thread making a vile racist statement.

“I am absolutely nauseated by the post and quite upset really that my good name has been drawn into this.”

Trudy Aspinwall, of Travelling Ahead, a traveller, Roma and Gypsy rights group, called the post “appalling”.

“These appalling comments published on an online public platform are a hate crime,” she said.

“This casual acceptance of racism against Gypsy, Roma and traveller communities cannot be tolerated any longer.

“It would be absolutely unacceptable to say this publicly about any other group, and it’s particularly concerning if this comes from a publicly-elected representative who has a role in decision making about local plans to improve services for this community.”

A spokesman for Denbighshire County Council said: “The matter was referred to the council and we have since referred it to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales for consideration. We cannot comment further at this stage.”

The office for the ombudsman, Nick Bennett, confirmed he had received a complaint concerning whether Mr Murray had breached the council’s code of conduct.

A spokesman said: “The complaint will be assessed before a decision is taken on whether the matter should be investigated.”

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