CONSERVATIVES in Portsmouth have moved to distance themselves from a controversial Tory councillor who has chosen to stand as an independent.
The council’s main opposition group voted to remove the whip from outspoken councillor Malcolm Hey because he has chosen to defy their decision not to put him up for re-election to the Copnor ward on May 3.
Last year, Cllr Hey was criticised for refusing to stay in the council chamber while a local Muslim imam read a prayer, saying he felt only Christian prayers should be read at British council meetings.
He also came under fire for his poor attendance record at meetings, which he blamed on having a full-time job in Gosport.
In a statement the Tory group leader Simon Bosher said: ‘We regret Cllr Hey’s decision.
‘It’s a great shame he has chosen to end his political career in this fashion.
‘Some months ago, we took the decision not to reselect Cllr Hey because his attendance at meetings and standards of behaviour fell way below the standard we would expect from a Conservative Party councillor.’
Cllr Hey said he thought he was being treated unfairly and that his Christian faith was the real reason he had been deselected.
He said: ‘I’m standing because I think I have a lot to offer from my 15 years as a councillor in Copnor.’