Current Affairs

Harman demands Cameron expels Tory councillor over ‘homophobic’ comment

Jessica Geen March 31, 2010
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Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman has called for the Tory councillor who made a remark about “limpwristed boys” to be expelled from the Conservative Party.

Denis Knowles, who sits on Wirral borough council, was suspended yesterday from his party for the comment he made on his Facebook page.

He was writing about gay activists from LGBT Labour, who were campaigning on behalf of Wallasey MP Angela Eagle, who is a lesbian.

Mr Knowles wrote: “An unusual group of boys leafleting in Seacombe this weekend, of the limpwristed variety and definitely NOT local.”

Today, Ms Harman attacked Tory leader David Cameron for his “silence” and demanded that he expel Mr Knowles from the party.

She said: “David Cameron’s silence on this issue has been deafening. If the Tories have truly changed then he needs to take decisive action now and expel this councillor from his party altogether. If he doesn’t it’s the same old story from the same old Tories.”

Speaking to today, Mr Knowles said he was “absolutely devastated” that the matter had got this far.

He said he was not homophobic, having worked with Ms Eagle for ten years before he defected to the Tories last May.

He said: “If I had homophobic tendencies, I would not have been able to work for her.”

Mr Knowles said he had reported himself to the Board of Standards for England and was willing to take “any punishment” he was given.

He said: “I can only hold up my hands and apologise for a throwaway comment. I’ve learned the hard way that a remark made in jest can be taken the wrong way.”

But he added that he felt he was being used as a “political football”.

“If I was being cynical, I would say I was being used to embarrass the Conservative Party,” he said.

A Conservative Party spokeswoman said: “No matter how unintended, Councillor Knowles’ comments were unacceptable and unfitting for an elected representative.

“As soon as he had realised the offence he had caused Councillor Knowles immediately withdrew the remarks from his Facebook site, and issued an instant and profuse apology.

“Councillor Knowles also found himself immediately suspended from the council group in which he sits pending an investigation.”

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