Posted: Wed 28th Jun 2023

Former Pembrokeshire mayor denies anti-Semitism allegations

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jun 28th, 2023

A Pembrokeshire mayor, who resigned after claims he had incited racial hatred, has disputed the allegations, saying they were taken out of context. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The claims were made at Monday night’s meeting of Neyland Town Council when members were handed copies of a 2008 blog extract written by current mayor, Cllr Andrew Lye. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Lye’s blog, entitled ‘Uncut’, was part of a campaign against Female Genital Mutilation which also questioned the morality of male circumcision. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“I was born with it and cannot understand why any religion should require its removal (I can understand if there is a medical need) because if God didn’t mean us to have one, he’d have created us without one. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Doesn’t the Bible say, in any case, that he made man in his own image, there we must assume God has a foreskin. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“So do we therefore say that those who have their boy’s foreskin removed are contravening God’s laws?” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

This, claimed Councillor Brian Rothero, was stirring up racial hatred towards Jews and Muslims who commonly practise male circumcision. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“This propaganda has been put up as a blog and it’s nothing short of antisemitic and anti-Muslim,” said Cllr Rothero. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He proposed a successful vote of no confidence in Cllr Lye, who was temporarily removed from his position as mayor ahead of an Emergency General Meeting. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Lye has since resigned both as mayor and as a town councillor. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Speaking after his resignation, Mr Lye said he had raised the issue of male circumcision as part of his blog against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“While the consequence of circumcision is considered less than Female Genital Mutilation, it is nonetheless still an often-unnecessary procedure on a boy’s body. A procedure that a boy cannot give consent to.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He added: “What was presented to the town council on Monday was a highly edited version of my original blog, where references to the indefensible practice of Female Genital Mutilation had been removed to give a completely different impression of the blog that I had originally intended. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“If anyone was offended by what I wrote I sincerely apologise. It was not my intention. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“I am against all forms of abuse, whether it’s against girls or boys. I am not homophobic, racist, Islamophobic or antisemitic. I just believe in equality for all and that is why I am in politics.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said he knew he was “taking on a poisoned chalice” when he became mayor, adding: “I have found Neyland Town Council an extremely toxic environment and after serious consideration I have decided to resign. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“I feel that I must remove the negativity from my life and concentrate on my partner and my life outside the council. I will continue to campaign for improvements for our community and for equality for all.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Lye, who has served on the town council since 2021, and took up the reigns as mayor last month, has the unfortunate epitaph of serving less time as mayor than Liz Truss did as Prime Minister. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Lye has previously served as a councillor on Trowbridge Town Council and West Wiltshire District Council, serving as its leader for three years. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Lye became mayor after beating the deputy mayor elect, Cllr Steve Thomas by just one vote; outgoing chairman Cllr Mike Harry giving his casting vote in favour. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Calls for Cllr Lye’s removal had been made earlier at the June meeting when Councillor Angela Radice claimed she had ‘been put under pressure’ to vote for him at May’s town council meeting, which was disputed by former chair Cllr Mike Harry. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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