Portsmouth Tories suspend senior councillor after she shared 'undeniably racist' posts online

A SENIOR Tory politician has been suspended from the party for sharing ‘undeniably racist’ posts on social media.

Monday, 8th June 2020, 3:03 pm
Updated Monday, 8th June 2020, 3:06 pm

Disgraced Councillor Linda Symes has been booted from the Conservatives this evening after sharing a slew of controversial posts on Facebook.

She is the second councillor in as many months from the city’s Tory group to be booted from the party for sharing offensive material online.

Two of her posts referenced the murder of soldier Lee Rigby as well as seven-year-old Emily Jones, asking why there were no riots over their deaths. Another stated: 'Because of his ethnicity Khan (Sadiq) will remain Mayor’.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Councillor Linda Symes has been suspended from the Conservatives from sharing offensive material online branded 'racist' by anti-hate campaigners. Picture: Sarah Standing (141517-6245)

The post sparked a massive uproar online with more than 2,500 people signing a petition online calling for her to be sacked.

Read More

Read More
Thousands sign petition calling for Portsmouth councillor to be sacked over 'rac...

David Williams, chief executive of Portsmouth City Council, informed all the island’s councillors of the move by Tory party HQ.

He said: ‘Dear members, I am emailing you to advise that Cllr Linda Symes has been suspended from the Conservative Party today.

Tory Councillor Linda Symes has come under fire for sharing and liking alleged racist posts on social media

‘As a consequence she is also suspended from the Conservative group on PCC. I have received the notification from her group leader (Donna Jones).

‘I will make any adjustments to political balance as necessary.’

The situation comes amid on-going protests over the death of American George Floyd, who died while being arrested by a white police officer in the US.

Cllr Symes is now the second of the city’s Tory councillors to be kicked from the party in the past two months.

Tory Councillor Linda Symes has come under fire for sharing and liking alleged racist posts on social media

In April, Councillor Lee Mason was suspended for sharing a photo of a hot cross bun with a Nazi-style Swaskita on it over Easter.

Responding to news that Cllr Symes had been suspended, Labour’s deputy group leader in Portsmouth, Cllr Tom Coles said: ‘Whilst this decision is the right thing to do, the fact it has taken five days to do so seriously calls into question the judgement and integrity of Portsmouth Conservatives.

‘The fact we’re still to hear from the local Tory leader (Donna Jones) is frankly shameful and morally bankrupt.’

Tory Councillor Linda Symes has come under fire for sharing and liking alleged racist posts on social media

Speaking to The News before her suspension, Cllr Symes – who represents Eastney and Craneswater – insisted she was not a racist.

However, she did not apologise for sharing the comments on Facebook, which she later deleted.

Standing by them, Cllr Symes said: ‘In sharing posts on my private Facebook page, I was highlighting that there have been brutal killings of children and adults in the UK, but people didn’t protest and riot about that.

‘Every life matters and what we need now is calm and common sense. In sharing the posts I was not being racist. The death of George Floyd is a tragedy and those responsible should be held to account, but so should those that kill anyone of any creed colour or religion.’

This week the mother of murdered soldier Lee Rigby, Lyn Rigby said her family had become ‘aware of a number of posts using images of Lee and his murder in a divisive way’ to oppose the Black Lives Matters movement.

Condemning the use In a post on the Lee Rigby Foundation Facebook page, Mrs Rigby said: ‘Lee proudly served his country to protect the rights and freedoms of all members of this great melting pot of a nation.

Tory Councillor Linda Symes has come under fire for sharing and liking alleged racist posts on social media

‘Seeing his image used to cause hate of any kind, especially for those exercising their freedoms in protest against this issue, hurts.

‘We find these posts extremely heartbreaking and distressing, and in complete opposition to what Lee stood for.’

Last week hundreds of people in Portsmouth joined a series of Black Lives Matter protests in Guildhall Square.

Over the weekend, thousands more nationwide have staged rallies deploring racism.

Despite numerous attempts by The News, Portsmouth’s Tory leader Donna Jones has not yet commented on Cllr Symes’ actions.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this story on portsmouth.co.uk. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to portsmouth.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit our Subscription page now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Tory Councillor Linda Symes has come under fire for sharing and liking alleged racist posts on social media