Gay Labour mayor at centre of Nottinghamshire homophobia row
A Labour politician in Nottinghamshire has accused a Tory council leader of being homophobic at an youth awards ceremony in December.
Retford mayor Ian Campbell, 23, says Kay Cutts, the leader of Nottinghamshire county council, refused to present him with an award or be photographed with him.
However, Ms Cutts has called the allegations “completely untrue” and claims that they were made out of spite by the awards’ organiser after the council withdrew funding for the event.
She questioned why they were being aired eight months after the ceremony.
Mr Campbell was to be awarded the title of joint Young Person of the Year in Nottinghamshire for his work on tackling homophobic bullying in schools. In previous years, the award has been presented by the council leader.
He claims that Ms Cutts appeared shocked when she asked him what his award was for before the ceremony.
He told BBC News: “She seemed to withdraw her hand and was in a bit of a shock.
“She proceeded not to speak to me but speak to other people on my table.”
Mr Campbell added the he thought the alleged snub was “disgusting” and sent out the wrong message.
The organiser of the Young People of the Year awards, Tony Gearing, claimed: “She was very off hand and had decided she wouldn’t take part – despite pleading – with the photographs or with the handing over of the prizes.”
Prime minister David Cameron has ordered an investigation into Ms Cutts’ conduct and the issue has been referred to party chairman Baroness Warsi.
A statement from the council said that the awards had been sponsored by the council for two years and Mr Gearing’s comments came eight months after the alleged incident was said to have happened.
The statement, which did not mention Mr Campbell, said that since informing Mr Gearing that it would no longer fund the awards, the council has “received a number of emails from Mr Gearing threatening to go to the media”.
It added: “In March the county council informed Mr Gearing it would be running its own event to celebrate the achievements of young people in Nottinghamshire in future years.
“Mr Gearing runs Young People of the Year Ltd as a business, it is not a charity or voluntary organisation. The council has honoured the funding agreement it has in place with Mr Gearing.”
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Ms Cutts said: “These are spurious, defamatory and extremely damaging allegations without foundation. They are completely untrue and I have to question why Mr Gearing is making them in the media now, eight months after the event.
“I made a welcome speech at the [Young People of the Year] event in December. I was not asked to present any of the awards, so to suggest that I refused to present an award is clearly nonsense.
“Mr Gearing is obviously upset that the council has decided to fund its own awards in future. We wish to recognise a wider range of young people’s achievements, including successes in sports, arts and music.
“It is a shame that embittered individuals with personal agendas choose to waste the time of busy people such as Baroness Warsi in this way.”
Mr Campbell became known as a local gay activist after his family threw him out over his sexual orientation. He was homeless for eight months.
He is thought to be one of Britain’s youngest ever mayors, having been elected in May.