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Stratford councillor suspended from party over 'Jewish secret service' comment

A Stratford District Councillor has been suspended from the ruling Conservative group after saying a government computer system sounded like “a Jewish secret service”.

Cllr John Feilding was reported to have made the comment during the overview and scrutiny committee on Wednesday.

The comment came about during a discussion relating to a computer system known as Mosaic, the county council’s customer relationship management system for social care.

It prompted a backlash from some councillors and the submission of formal complaints by Conservative member Cllr Sarah Walley-Hoggins and Liberal Democrat Cllr Kate Rolfe.

Cllr Feilding went on to apologise in the meeting for the comment.

The Conservatives have already removed the party whip from Cllr Feilding and it remains to be seen if any further action will be taken by the authority.

Cllr Walley Hoggins said: “I was shocked and horrified to hear the language used by Cllr Fielding at the meeting which is why I have made a formal complaint about it. Anti-Semitism cannot and must not be tolerated in any aspect of our society.”

Cllr Rolfe added: “I thought the comment was offensive and inappropriate and I think removing the whip from Cllr Feilding at this time pending an investigation, is the right thing to do.”

Cllr Tony Jefferson, leader of Stratford District Council, said: “We have withdrawn the whip from Cllr Feilding pending the outcome of the council’s code of conduct investigation.”

Cllr Jefferson declined to comment further on what Cllr Feilding said in the meeting.

A spokesperson for Stratford District Council, said: “The district council can confirm that it is aware of an incident involving Cllr Feilding at the overview and scrutiny committee and as a result a complaint has been instigated.

“This is currently being fully investigated and therefore no further comment will be made at this time.”

Speaking to the Herald Cllr Feilding said: “I issued a full apology for what I said during the meeting. What I said was not anti-Semitic in any way.”

It is not the first time Cllr Feilding has found himself in hot water at the district council, in 2019 he and another councillor were found to have breached the council’s code of conduct following an investigation into allegations of sexist behaviour at the authority.

He submitted a full unreserved written apology to all council staff and agreed to take part in further training.

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