By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy Reporter
A councillor who said refugees have “no work ethic” and a west London opposition leader who called his colleague a “stupid woman” have been censured by a council committee.
Kensington and Chelsea council’s audit and transparency committee handed out the sanctions after hearing the councillors plead their cases during a rare three-hour public session on Thursday.
Committee chair, cllr Gerard Hargreaves, ordered the Dalgarno ward councillor to undergo training on the councillors code of conduct and offered her free counselling after she broke down in tears about the backlash she had faced for her tweets.
The committee agreed that cllr Jedut breached the code of conduct by failing to promote equality and respect and brought the council into disrepute through her online behaviour.
Cllr Jedut said her posts were taken out of context and were written during a “heightened emotional state”. She said she was merely exercising her right to free speech.
The committee agreed that the posts could not be covered by free speech laws because they were not counted as political discourse.
Cllr Jedut, who waived her right to keep her statement private, apologised for the offence she had caused and said she was not a racist. She said she serves residents of all backgrounds and does not discriminate.
A group of Dalgarno residents complained to the council about cllr Jedut’s posts on X, formerly Twitter, between October 2022 and April 2023 in which she called Egyptians illiterate and Chinese “barbaric” in response to tweets about alleged animal cruelty.
She also appeared to suggest there was a “Muslim supremacy show off” while sharing a tweet from a far-right account about an Islamic cultural event taking place in a church. She also accused Labour of supporting Sharia Law in the UK.
Opposition leader councillor Kasim Ali was also called before committee members after an independent investigator operating on behalf of the council found his treatment of fellow Labour cllr Jedut earlier this year broke the councillors code of conduct.
He was not leader of the opposition at the time of the alleged incident in April.
The acting investigating officer, Sarah Baker, found that cllr Ali failed to treat his colleague and residents with respect and had brought the council into disrepute by falling short of conduct standards. But allegations that cllr Ali’s actions failed to promote equality were withdrawn.
Cllr Ali accepted the punishment and said he wanted to put the saga behind him. He also continued to deny intimidating cllr Jedut or calling her a “stupid woman” saying those are not words he would have used.
He said: “We have to have good standards for the council and what the council has heard and what residents have heard is not what I said.
“I will continue to work with everyone in the council and I would like the council to take my earlier apology and I would then like to move on.”
The committee also heard how cllr Ali felt “goaded” by cllr Jedut after she signed a letter calling for his resignation on the morning of the incident.
Pictured top: Labour Cllr Eva Jedut (Picture: Kensington and Chelsea council)
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