Swindon mayor says sorry for calling disabled people ‘mongols’ – but charities dismiss forced apology

Tory Nick Martin has ‘missed the point’ trying to remedy offensive comments

The mayor of Swindon has been forced to apologise publicly after he described disabled people as “mongols” and questioned whether they should be allowed to have sex.

Nick Martin, a Conservative Party councillor, was the subject of a complaint from two Labour councillors after he made the comment during a Swindon Borough Council meeting.

Mr Martin denied any wrongdoing until he was found guilty by an independent officer for the council, at which point a standards panel ordered him to apologise.

The mayor said he accepted the panel’s findings, which agreed that while hearing evidence about the challenges faced by disabled adults in modern society, Mr Martin commented: “Are we still letting those mongols have sex with each other?”

Mr Martin said he had apologised to the council “for using a word I shouldn't have,” and added that he would say sorry publicly “as I have been asked to”.

He later told BBC Wiltshire that he had used a word he “was brought up with” and that it was “not a modern word”, adding: “The  committee want a new apology and I will keep apologising until they fall over.

“I'm sorry, I'm human, and I don't know what is wrong with my apologies.”

Richard Hawkes, the chief executive of the disability charity Scope, said the mayor had “missed the point” after the council demanded he provide an “unreserved” apology.

“Of course he should apologise for using this offensive term. But this isn’t just about political correctness and using the wrong words.

“Disturbingly, he has insinuated that there is something wrong with disabled people having sex with each other.

“This is about deep-seated ignorance towards disabled people and a lack of acceptance that disabled people have sex lives, which can be just as fulfilling – or unfulfilling – as anyone else’s.

 “The mayor’s public apology needs to acknowledge that it is more than just his words that are at fault. And that with his office, comes a responsibility to represent all of his constituents.”

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