Calls to suspend Conservative Pembrokeshire Councillor after alleged slavery comment

CALLS have been made for a Conservative member of Pembrokeshire County Council to be suspended after he was alleged to have said that all white men should have a black slave.

Conservative county councillor for Haverfordwest’s Prendergast ward Andrew Edwards is claimed to have made the comment in a recording, which it is said was then sent to Pembrokeshire County Council’s monitoring officer.

It is understood that Cllr Edwards – who is also a magistrate and a school governor – was identified by his voice.

Welsh publication Nation Cymru reported that several people had identified Cllr Edwards from his voice, transcribing the recording as saying: “Nothing wrong with the skin colour at all. I think all white men should have a black man as a slave, or black woman as a slave, you know.

“There’s nothing wrong with skin colour, it’s just that they’re lower class than us white people, you know.”

The context of the recording itself is not yet known.

Cllr Edwards, who became a councillor after last year’s elections, neither confirmed nor denied the allegation when asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Instead, he confirmed a previously-issued written statement which said: “I am aware of such serious allegations being made against me.

“This is why I have self-referred to the Public Services Ombudsman for an independent evaluation.”

Cllr Edwards, a self-employed hairdresser, licensee of a Swansea pub and restaurant, and a Freemason, added: “It is now in the hands of legal experts and the Ombudsman.

“It would be unfair on the process for me to comment now.”

A spokesperson for the Labour Group said: “The views contained within this recording are disgusting. People in Pembrokeshire, and in particular, in the Prendergast ward of Haverfordwest will be shocked by the comments allegedly made by Cllr Edwards.

“Racism has absolutely no place in our society, let alone in the views expressed by an elected member on Pembrokeshire County Council.

“We welcome the matter being referred to the Public Service Ombudsman, but this isn’t just a matter for the Ombudsman. The Conservative Group must take immediate action and suspend Cllr Edwards whilst any investigation takes place.”

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Register of Members’ Interests states, among other things, that Cllr Edwards is a Freemason, and governor of Prendergast Primary School.

The Conservative group on Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire County Council have been contacted for a comment.

It is expected any decision on a formal investigation by the Ombudsman will take several weeks, with the matter either referred to the county council’s own standards committee or to the Adjudication Panel for Wales.

By Bruce Sinclair

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