April 20, 2022 10.10 am

Racist comment Tory councillor forgiven and allowed back into party

Councillor apologised after using ‘n-word’ in a public meeting

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks the forgiveness of his colleagues over “party-gate” locally a Tory councillor who uttered a racist remark during a public meeting has been absolved.

Councillor Ian Stokes resigned as from his role as vice chairman of the authority and was stripped of his party membership in November 2021 after using the ‘n-word’ in a public meeting. It sparked protests, calls for extra training, and an investigation into his conduct.

The Peascliffe & Ridgeway member was caught on SKDC’s livestream when, in response to another set of comments, he said: “Well that’s put a little n****r in the woodpile so to speak.”

A review into his actions said he had breached the code of conduct recommended several sanctions against Councillor Stokes, including asking him to make a further apology and attend equality and diversity training.

A spokesman for the Conservative Group at the council said Councillor Stokes had now formally apologised in front of a meeting of the full council and had undertaken Equalities and Diversity Training.

They confirmed he now had the Conservative Whip restored.

SKDC’s website has already been updated to list Councillor Stokes back in the group.

In a statement, Councillor Stokes said: “ I would like to take this opportunity to apologise again for using such inappropriate language, I regret it unreservedly and it was a mistake.

“I am privileged to be a district councillor representing Peascliffe & Ridgeway ward, and I will continue to work with local residents and support those in need to the best of my ability.”

Councillor Amanda Wheeler, who has been a major campaigner for equalities and diversity training at SKDC and been an outspoken critic of Councillor Stokes’ actions, said she was “not surprised” by the decision.

“It’s not for me to decide who the party has as their representative but it’s not a party I would ever wish to join,” she said.

“But, it’s up to the voters at the next local elections whether they think he’s fit to serve them as councillor, we’ll have to let them be the judge of that.”