Councillor Chris Joannides says expulsion over Facebook burqa comments was "disproportionate"

Enfield Independent: Councillor Chris Joannides Councillor Chris Joannides

A councillor that has been kicked out of the Conservative party for comments made on a social media site has said he was treated “disproportionately.”

Chris Joannides of Grange Ward, has been expelled from the Conservative party for one year following an investigation by the central party board into his re-election in the ward for the latest elections.

Cllr Joannides had his party whip taken away in February 2013 after his social network page was found to have contained material comparing Muslim burqas to dustbin bags and complaints that his job was getting in the way of his social life.

During an investigation, 27 images were of his Facebook page which also revealed his frustration at a meeting which his ward in which he states: “I’ll be surfing Facebook during the residents’ meeting.”

The party board has also stated that he will not be endorsed by the party for the forthcoming Council elections in May 2014.

However, Mr Joannides has stated that he is “disappointed” that the party has stepped in on a national level.

He said: “I am disappointed the Conservative Party nationally decided to expel my membership for 12 months, allegedly as a precautionary measure.

“By effectively barring me from standing in May local elections, Conservative Headquarters have taken upon themselves the right to decide whether I am fit to represent the good people of Grange on Enfield Council, a right that properly lies with the Grange Ward electorate.

The councillor also told the Enfield Independent that the past year had been a stressful one for himself and his family.

He added: “They have punished me disproportionately. I remain baffled as to why the national Conservative Party, which surely has better things to do, than side with a petty faction that is more interested in undermining its own colleagues than in taking the fight to win back Enfield Council.”

The councillor also went on to thank the Enfield-Southgate Conservative Association for the support he has received.

A Conservative spokesman for the national party said: "Chris Joannides is not endorsed as a Conservative Party Candidate in the forthcoming local government elections in the London Borough of Enfield in May 2014.  No Appeal is permitted under Party Rules.

“Furthermore, Cllr Joannides is expelled from the Conservative Party for a period of 12 months.  He may Appeal against this decision and it is our understanding that he intends to do so.”

Leader of the Enfield Conservative group Michael Lavender believes the Enfield Conservatives have acted proportionately and timely in his expulsion.

He said:  “I believe the Enfield Conservative group acted proportionately and timely by expelling Cllr. Joannides in response to unacceptable material that was published on his facebook page. 
“The local Conservative Association has enabled the National Conservative Party to intervene and make the final decision.  It has endorsed the group’s position. 

“I have also been informed that the National Party has also agreed with my representation that it could have determined matters sooner.  A number of people have asked why this has taken so long, I understand that observation, and this has been acknowledged by the Party.

“This has been somewhat stressful for a number of people who have remained steadfast in doing the right thing and I thank all those people for their support.”

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