Welsh Secretary faces police probe after 'racist' election leaflet on traveller sites

3 August 2023, 12:06

Police in Wales are reviewing the contents of a political leaflet that raised concerns about Traveller and gypsy sites
Police in Wales are reviewing the contents of a political leaflet that raised concerns about Traveller and gypsy sites. Picture: Alamy/Twitter

By Emma Soteriou

A Tory MP is facing a police probe over a 'racist' election leaflet raising concerns about traveller and gypsy sites.

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The Conservative leaflet asks for people's opinion on the proposal to establish sites in Welsh Secretary David TC Davies' Monmouth constituency.

It talks about a Monmouthshire County Council consultation and says Mr Davies "believes that there will be insufficient consultation with the members of the public affected".

"The council plans a short consultation during the summer holiday period when many residents will be unable to participate," it says.

The leaflet then asks people to fill in the form overleaf with their views and send it back to the MP's constituency office in the area of Usk.

One of three questions asks: "Would you like to see a traveller site next to your house? Y/N."

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Travelling Ahead, a gypsy, Roma and traveller advice service, said it had been contacted by "horrified" residents over the leaflet.

Trudy Aspinwall, a project manager at the charity, told WalesOnline: “You really would only have to substitute the words ‘gypsy and traveller’ for any other ethnic group and you would see that it is racist.

“There is no doubt that this was targeted at gipsies and travellers. They are protected under the Equality Act and there is a duty to not incite hostility or opposition based on race.”

But Mr Davies said the "location of sites was a legitimate matter for public debate".

“It is entirely valid to criticise a lack of wide public consultation by a council,” he said.

“I have been contacted by many upset residents at the shortness of the consultation and the proposed locations for the sites.

“I have also been told that many from the gypsy and traveller community are also upset at the proposed locations for the sites.”

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden argued that Mr Davies is "standing up for his constituents".

David TC Davies
David TC Davies. Picture: Alamy

Gwent Police said it was aware of the leaflet, with Detective Inspector Steve Thomas saying: "Officers are reviewing the content of the leaflet and its impact on the gypsy and traveller and settled communities in Monmouthshire.

"We take any allegation of discrimination extremely seriously and we're committed to ensuring our communities are safe places and welcoming for all."

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “The EHRC receives complaints each week about allegations of unlawful activity contrary to the Equality Act 2010.

“We consider each complaint carefully and take action where appropriate.”

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