Harrogate parish councillor who called for White Lives Matter protest will not face disciplinary action

A parish councillor who called for a White Lives Matter protest on social media will not have any action taken against him - but he could lose his day job.

By Jacob Webster
Thursday, 25th June 2020, 2:30 pm
Updated Monday, 29th June 2020, 10:06 am

Ernest Butler - a member of Darley and Menwith Parish Council in Nidderdale - had a number of complaints over posts he made on Facebook.

Sharing a video of violent protests in the US following the death of George Floyd in police custody, the 49-year-old posted: "What part of this is a peaceful protest or Black Lives Matter. So let’s do White Lives Matter."

Coun Butler also shared a post of George Floyd's criminal record.

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Coun ErnestButler.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he said: "I am not racist whatsoever. I have not got anything against the protests or anything like that.

"But how can you justify the looting, the businesses being set on fire and destroyed, and the monuments being smashed and defaced.

"I am not scared to stick my head above the parapet and say what 90 per cent of people think about.

"It is not racism, it is the facts."

Harrogate Borough Council said its code of conduct does not apply to councillors when they use social media in a personal capacity - and no action will be taken against Coun Butler.

Darley and Menwith Parish Council were contacted for a comment but did not respond.

Coun Butler said he has now been suspended from his job as a night shift worker at Nidd Hall and is facing an employment tribunal over his comments.

He also said his social media posts were "taken out of context" and that he supports all equality movements.

"I just say it how it is. If something does come up and it is proven by law that what I said is racist, I will stand up and apologise," he said.

It comes as police investigating an incident which saw a plane fly over Manchester carrying the message “White Lives Matter Burnley” say no crime was committed.

Lancashire Police launched an investigation after the plane flew above the Etihad Stadium just after the game between Manchester City and Burnley kicked off on Monday night.

On Tuesday, police said no crime had been committed.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter

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