Conservative councillor under investigation as homophobic taunts continue

Cllr Aron Klein.

The Conservative Party’s head office has confirmed that it is investigating a Stamford Hill councillor over homophobic comments.

Cllr Aron Klein (Con, Stamford Hill West) hit the headlines last week after saying “No thank you” to LGBT education, as well as singling out Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville (Lab & Co-op) for his sexuality.

Despite condemnation from Glanville, and the local Conservative federation saying it was “looking into the matter”, an email from Cllr Klein to the media over the weekend was titled with the well-worn homophobic taunt: “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

The message continued: “Just tell Philip Glanville to stop crying like a innocent cheep [sic] was attacked by a wolf. I am not homophobic, neither misogynist. I don’t care who people juggle around with.”

A woman was arrested in July under the Public Order Act for directing identical ‘Adam and Steve’ abuse towards attendees at Waltham Forest Pride.

When informed of this by the Citizen, Cllr Klein appeared to deny having written this himself, responding within minutes: “This was a mistake past [sic] from a email I received.”

When asked for further clarity, the Stamford Hill councillor claimed he had received the abuse from somebody else, and then accidentally forwarded the phrase to the media as the subject line of an email that contained his response to accusations of homophobia.

Josh Bradlow, head of policy for LGBT rights charity Stonewall,said: “People in positions of political power have a responsibility to champion the individuals they represent, and this includes LGBT people.

“The latest comments from Cllr Klein show how much work is still left for us to do to combat discrimination and the use of offensive language against lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.”

Cllr Klein claimed yesterday that he had met with the chair of Hackney Conservatives Jack Sutcliffe and that the matter had been resolved.

He added: “This subject is now cleared. I am in peace with both the Mayor and the party.”

It is not clear whether Cllr Klein was aware that he is under investigation by his own party when he wrote this message.

The probe into Cllr Klein comes against the background of widespread interest into standards in public life, with Lord Jonathan Evans warning all holders of public office at the end of last year that “behaviour matters as much as formal structures”.

Lord Evans said: “In the current political situation, it is even more important that high standards are not only consistently observed but also demonstrably valued.

“It is also vital that the tone of public debate should avoid abuse and intimidation, which have become increasingly widespread.”

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “This matter is under investigation and we cannot comment further on an ongoing investigation.”

Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville said: “I am really disappointed that despite a positive response from the local Conservatives Cllr Klein’s homophobic comments continue.  

“I have had no personal apology from Cllr Klein nor acknowledgement that his comments were or could be construed as offensive.

“But this has never been about me; councillors have a responsibility to help their constituents from every race, sexuality or creed.

“If Cllr Klein is willing to make personal comments about my sexuality, it shows he is not willing to stand up for his LGBT constituents of Stamford Hill West.

“I hope the national Tory Party now take necessary action to show they do not tolerate homophobia in their party. I have been clear there is no place for hate in Hackney, they should do the same.”

EDIT: This article was updated at 17:25 on Wednesday 29 January to include comment from Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville.