The Barking and Dagenham Labour councillor who came under fire for alleged homophobic comments has said that he is a victim of a “politically motivated smear campaign.”
Liam Smith, deputy leader of Barking and Dagenham council, reportedly called a political rival’s mother a “dyke” at the Chadwell Heath by-election last month.
Mr Smith was cautioned by the police and ordered to write an apology to Sue Connelly, mother of Tory councillor Neil Connelly.
Mrs Connelly is also a Conservative and works at the office of Romford’s Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell.
Mr Smith claims that the alleged homophobic insult was invented by his right-wing opponents.
He told Pink Paper:
“They are all in it together.
“This is nothing less than a co-ordinated smear campaign.
“I honestly don’t know why else she would do this.
“I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body.
“I am proud of our equalities record.
“I am a decent, straight talking individual and would never have said those words.
“I swear on my children’s lives I never called her a dyke.
“If anyone is anti-gay it is Sue Connelly. She was against the repeal of Section 28.”
Mr Connelly said: “My mother is not anti-gay.
“As it happens, a fair few friends of the family are of the homosexual persuasion.”
A reporter from local newspaper the Barking and Dagenham Post, who claimed to have been standing next to Mr Smith as he made his comments, wrote a full account of the incident, with no reference to homophobic language.
Other eyewitnesses, however, have claimed that Mr Smith did use homophobic language.
Dee McIlroy, who stood as an Independent candidate at the by-election, was present at the count and claims to have heard Mr Smith’s words.
Ms McIlroy told PinkNews.co.uk that she was greatly angered by the comment.
“All [Mrs Smith] said was ‘alright Liam, that’s 4-0,”‘ Ms McIlroy said, “and he responded with a clearly homophobic comment.
“She was only making a joke to him! It was unnecessary and irrelevant.
“That word should not be used as an insult, and he is setting a bad example to his constituents.”
Ms McIlroy said that the lesbian community in Barking and Dagenham are upset by Mr Smith’s comments and will stage a protest against him, hoping that he will stand down.