Suspended Calderdale councillor replies to 'Islamophobic' accusations

Roger Taylor, who represents Northowram and Shelf on Calderdale Council
Roger Taylor, who represents Northowram and Shelf on Calderdale Council

A Calderdale councillor said he 'does not remember' questioning why British Muslim columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was in the UK.

This week, Roger Taylor, who represents Northowram and Shelf on Calderdale Council, is one of 25 sitting and former Tory councillors at the centre of a political 'Islamophobic' storm.

Serving the Northowram and Shelf constituency since May 2002, Coun Taylor responded to several accusations, including questioning why a British Muslim journalist is in the UK, and sharing a post comparing Muslims not speaking out against terrorism to Germans not speaking out against Nazi Germany.

He said: "I don't remember saying anything about the journalist.

"I feel the online trolls are monitoring every comment I make because there's an election.

"The Tories are playing cricket on a rugby pitch, no one's questioning what the political left are saying, only right-wing members like me - it's double standards."

In response to sharing a post comparing Muslims not speaking out against terrorism to German people not speaking out against the Nazis during World War II, Coun Taylor said he is worried his freedom of speech is at jeopardy, and questioned the Conservative Party's decision to suspend him.

"If I cannot offend people, I don't have freedom of speech," said Coun Taylor.

"It's a comment, it's not fact - it's my observation.

"I have Muslim friends, but 99 percent of terrorist attacks are made in the name of Allah, which can make the Muslim community scared.

"There's a parallel between this and the German people who were afraid of what might have happened if they spoke out against the Nazis.

"We [the Conservatives] are the party that are supposed to back freedom of speech, which right now is not the case.

"They just sent an email saying 'you have been suspended'."

Coun Taylor also responded to comments about a private email in 2012 he sent calling the Hillsborough report "politically correct" and the Stephen Lawrence inquiry "a joke".

Referring to the Hillsborough report, he said: "People gave evidence who were not under oath.

"It wasn't the police that crushed those people, it was the Liverpool fans.

"Being crushed is a death worse than burning or drowning.

"For the Stephen Lawrence inquiry I probably should have said it was an unfunny joke instead.

"What happened to him [Stephen Lawrence] was despicable, but I could've saved all those millions about discovering there's institutional racism in the police

"There's institutional racism everywhere - that's life.

"I just worry we're losing our freedom of speech."

Coun Taylor said he will continue to represent the Northowram and Shelf constituency the best he can.

"I've nothing against the Muslim community because they're good at running small businesses.

"I've no hatred towards Muslim people, but it goes back to the double standards."

Tory peer Baroness Warsi, who is from Dewsbury, said the party had a "serious and deep problem with Islamophobia".

She claimed the party is failing to deal with the problem "institutionally" and accused it of being "dismissive" of the issue four years after problems were first brought to light.

In response, Coun Taylor said: "I disagree, where's the evidence there's Islamophobia?

"Baroness Warsi should not be in the Tory party."

Regarding his current position, Coun Taylor said he does not know how long he will be suspended, but confirmed he was last suspended in 2012 for six months.