A North East Liberal Democrat council candidate has been accused of Islamophobia over comments posted on his Facebook site.
Dave Stones, who is standing for election to Redcar and Cleveland Council, reportedly suggested on the website that a pork restaurant and a topless bar should be built next to a mosque.
He has apologised for any offence caused, but Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop accused him of holding “clearly expressed Islamophobic views”. The Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP raised the issue with Commons leader Sir George Young.
He said: “Next Thursday there will be a by-election in Newcomen ward of Redcar and Cleveland Council. The Liberal Democrat candidate there has made openly Islamophobic statements on his Facebook site yet he remains the candidate, despite the Liberal Democrats’ zero tolerance for such instances of prejudice and discrimination.
“The Muslim Council of Britain are concerned, the Coexistence Trust are concerned and Hope Not Hate are concerned. Do you believe there is any place in mainstream democratic political parties, especially one which is in Government, for someone who holds such clearly expressed Islamophobic views such as Newcomen’s Lib Dem candidate?”
Sir George told him he was “reluctant to get drawn into a by-election spat” but added: “If any criminal offence has been committed then it would be appropriate to refer it to the police.”
Meanwhile Ian Swales, the Lib Dem MP for Redcar, has dismissed Stones’ Facebook comments as “a bad taste joke”.
See “No place for racism in local government or North East says Northern TUC”, TUC press release, 12 January 2012