BBC News

Wiltshire councillor's LGBT comments did not breach code

Published
image captionA Wiltshire Council investigation has found Ms Douglas' comments did not breach the code of conduct

A councillor under investigation over comments about the LGBT community has been cleared of breaking Wiltshire Council's code of conduct.

Mary Douglas said the LGBT community was "misguided by a powerful ideology" during an area board meeting last year.

Wiltshire Council called her comments "unwise and unhelpful" but said they did not breach the code.

It said this was due to councillors' "right to freedom of expression within political debate".

An investigation was launched after Ms Douglas made the comments at a Salisbury area board meeting last November.

Members were discussing funding requests from community groups and she refused to back a £1,000 grant for Salisbury Pride.

'Wonderful people'

"I do not support their choices, nor the ideology and world view they represent," she told the meeting.

"These are wonderful people, well meaning and sincere, but misguided by a powerful ideology.

"I don't want to be a part of promoting this, and I represent a large number of people, some of whom are afraid to say something."

Ms Douglas, who represents the Salisbury St Francis and Stratford division, was stripped of her front-bench role as Wiltshire Council's portfolio holder for social mobility and skills but remained on the council.

She said: "I am relieved and thankful for this outcome. The consequences of not coming to this conclusion would have been untenable and deeply concerning for freedom of speech and expression for elected officials.

image copyrightChristian Concern
image captionThe Christian Legal Centre supported Ms Douglas (pictured) and its chief executive Andrea Williams they were happy she had been 'vindicated'

"I do not agree with the political message of gay pride, and should have the right to say so.

"To disagree is not to disrespect. Across UK society, we must be able to disagree with each other while also holding each other in the highest esteem.

"To be able to say what we think and believe is vital for democracy, community cohesion and good decision making."

After the code of conduct hearing a Wiltshire Council spokesman said: "The hearing sub-committee considered all relevant matters in respect of both complaints.

"It determined whilst Councillor Douglas' actions were unwise and unhelpful, they did not amount to a breach of the code due to the high level of protection afforded to councillors in respect of their right to freedom of expression within political debate."

Follow BBC West on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to: bristol@bbc.co.uk

Related Topics

  • LGBT
  • Salisbury
  • Pride
  • Wiltshire Council

More on this story

  • Councillor Mary Douglas loses role over LGBT comment

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.