An Enfield councillor has been suspended from the Conservative party following alleged anti-Islamic comments made on a social media site last year. Councillor Chris Joannides has had his membership at the party suspended and he will now be investigated by the Conservative Party’s national board.
Enfield Borough Council’s Tory group withdrew the whip from the Grange Ward representative in February 2013 for alleged anti-Islamic comments posted on his Facebook page. In a joke he posted on his page last year, he compared Muslim burqas to dustbin bags and complained that his job was getting in the way of his social life.
However, earlier this month Mr Joannides was cleared by the Crown Prosecution Service, stating he did not break the law and will not face any criminal charges. Despite there being no legal wrongdoing, he now faces an investigation from the national party’s decision-making body.
In a statement, Enfield Conservative Group leader Cllr Michael Lavender said: “I have been notified, as we had expected, that the Conservative Party Board has exercised its right to review the suitability of Cllr Joannides and has suspended Cllr. Joannides’ membership of the party.
“Last year the Conservatives on Enfield Council acted swiftly and decisively to suspend and then remove the whip from Cllr Joannides after they determined that his actions brought the party into disrepute.
“Such a decision is not taken lightly and, as expected where questions about the suitability of a candidate are raised and challenged, the party will review the decision.”
Cllr Lavender welcomed the review and stated that the party board has begun its investigation, a process that will take five weeks. He added: “We take a zero-tolerance approach to racism and believe all those who hold public office have a duty to promote respect, understanding and tolerance towards people of all faiths.”