POLITICS

Ukip Councillor Peter Lagoda's Fire Station Remarks Were 'Racist', Review Finds

10/04/2014 17:59 BST | Updated 11/04/2014 09:59 BST
Steve Williams

Ukip county councillor Peter Lagoda's controversial remarks at a Cambridgeshire fire station were "racist, derogatory and discriminatory," an independent review has found.

One of the firefighters at Wisbech fire station lodged a complaint over Lagoda's remarks, as he admitted to describing his sister to the firefighters as a "w*g" and spoke about his "Mongol" relatives having children with "slanty eyes".

"Yes, my cousin married Mongols and now all their little children are ever so cute and they have slanty eyes," Lagoda said in a telephone interview with HuffPost UK in February.

“They’ve taken it the wrong way and my English must be far greater than theirs because I looked in the dictionary and a person from Mongolia is called a Mongol. It’s always the British that bastardize words.”

Cambridgeshire County Council said that the independent member of the standards committee had looked into the firefighter's complaint and found that Cllr Lagoda had brought the council into disrepute, the Wisbech Standard reports.

“The remarks by Cllr Lagoda could be interpreted by a reasonable person as racist, derogatory and discriminatory in nature," the review concluded.

The statement added that Cllr Lagoda's remarks were “not acceptable in every day use. It was also the view of the independent person that Cllr Lagoda breached the members’ code of conduct of treating others with respect and bringing their office or authority into disrepute”.

“It was noted by the independent person that Cllr Lagoda did not dispute he had used the words but these were part of a private conversation and not in the public arena.

“It was also highlighted that the councillor had shown remorse and that the fire authority personnel had indicated the approach suggested by the independent person was acceptable to them.”

Cllr Martin Curtis, Conservative leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, told HuffPostUK: "Cllr Lagoda is letting the people he was elected to serve down. If we had a power of recall for errant Councillors, I am certain he would be forced out of office, he should stand down and allow someone to be elected who can carry out the role effectively and with appropriate dignity.

"I am surprised that, as of today, the UKIP group at Cambridgeshire County Council still allow him to be listed as a member of their group on the County Council's website. Despite what the National party say, he very much remains part of the UKIP set up in Cambridgeshire."

The councillor, who was suspended by Ukip after being charged with benefits fraud , was given a "strong recommendation" to write a "sincere apology" to Cambridgeshire Fire Authority and attend equality and diversity training.

Despite being forced by the local Ukip group to write a letter of apology to the firefighters after his visit, Cllr Lagoda initially told HuffPostUK that the furore was "ridiculous, over-the-top" and that the letter "shouldn't have gone out".

Labour MEP Richard Howitt criticised Ukip's failure to kick out Cllr Lagoda for his "deeply offensive" and "very shocking' remarks, which he said "cries out loud about the true nature of the party."

Tory Stephen Barclay, MP for North East Cambridgeshire, warned: "If racist language was used by a county councillor then it is deeply disturbing."

In response to the review, Cllr Lagoda denied that his remarks were racist, adding: "If I’m asked in future about my family I think I have learnt what to say- nothing.”

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