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Two councillors cleared over offensive song stunt

Sonia Gable | Friday, 7 December 2007 Source: Searchlight

The Standards Board for England has ruled that two British National Party councillors did not bring their office as councillors into disrepute when one filmed the other singing an offensive racist song outside the office of a Muslim government minister.

Shahid Malik, the MP for Dewsbury, reported Derek Dawson, a Burnley councillor and cameraman for BNP TV, and Colin Auty, a Dewsbury councillor, after his staff were intimidated by the song, a BNP favourite, which claims that Savile Town, a part of Dewsbury that has many residents of Asian origin, was full of drug dealers and paedophiles.

The Standards Board accepted the councillors' claim that they were acting in a private capacity, which meant they had not breached the councillors' code of conduct. The ruling meant that the Board did not go on to consider the song itself and why the men had chosen to film its performance in that spot.

Councillors have been able to use the "private capacity" argument since Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, took the Standards Board to the High Court when it suspended him over his offensive remarks to a Jewish journalist. Livingstone challenged the ruling on the grounds that he was not on duty when he ran into the journalist as he was leaving a party at London's City Hall.

Dawson defended the song, written by Auty, saying the words of the song must be true because he had read it all in the papers. The song claims that drug dealers in Savile Town will give punters a bonus if they "bring a lass of 12 and not much more".

Councillor Gordon Birtwistle, leader of Burnley Council, said "trying to create racial disharmony" by singing an offensive song in a mainly Asian area was "not acceptable at all".

Auty is a member of the BNP band Red Clare, alongside Paul Cromie, a BNP Bradford councillor, and Frank Atack, a BNP activist. The band often play at BNP functions and at some non-BNP community events.

Strangely, however, Red Clare were not invited to perform on the Saturday evening of the BNP annual conference weekend, but were displaced by an Elvis impersonator, whom Simon Darby, the BNP press officer and deputy leader, described as "one of the best Elvis acts I have ever seen". We hear that Cromie was not best pleased.

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