Mayor in Muslim row quits Tories

Robert BennettA town council mayor who claimed Muslims “cause mayhem with explosives” quit the Conservative party last night. Mirfield Mayor Clr Robert Bennett provoked outrage when comments he made about Islam in an email were leaked. Clr Bennett wrote in the email:

“I am aware Islamic organisations are keen to promote a view that they are peaceful, forward-thinking individuals who wish to integrate into the British way of life. The policy of clothing the feminine population of Dewsbury in black sack-like clothing from head to toe, the occasional trip out to cause mayhem with explosives and the proposal that all those of homosexual persuasion should be killed by shooting or other means is adequate and practical testimony to the level of progress being made in this direction.”

With an investigation into the leaked email under way, Clr Bennett told the town council: “I have decided to withdraw from membership of the Conservative party until such time as this matter is resolved.”

Clr Keith Sibbald, of Northorpe ward, spoke in the mayor’s defence. He said: “Those comments were intended to be off the cuff, but they have been taken up and used in an almost barbaric fashion by the Press.” Clr Sibbald went on to accuse Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik and the British National Party of using the controversy “to make political gain out of a private email”. Clr Sibbald then proposed a vote of confidence in Clr Bennett as mayor, which was passed.

Huddersfield Examiner, 13 February 2008