'Disabled children should be put down': Cornwall councillor Collin Brewer to be investigated by police over controversial comments
Brewer apologised and resigned earlier this year after his comments but was re-elected earlier this month
Paul Gallagher is a reporter for the Independent and Independent on Sunday having joined the group in 2012. He has previously worked for the European Voice, Daily Mirror and the Observer and been based in Brussels, Belfast, Tokyo and London.
Tuesday 14 May 2013
A councillor who compared disabled children with deformed lambs that are dealt with at birth by “smashing them against a wall” is being investigated by police over his comments, it emerged.
Colin Brewer also claimed in an interview there were good arguments for killing some disabled babies with high support needs because of the cost of providing them with services. Speaking to Disability News Service (DNS), he said: “If (farmers) have a misshapen lamb, they get rid of it. They get rid of it. Bang! If you go to a farmer’s funeral there is not a lot of weeping because they are used to life and death. It is something they deal with on a daily basis.”
The 68-year-old’s views were universally condemned. Mark Gatiss, the League of Gentleman and Sherlock star, tweeted a link to reports, adding: “A Nazi. Disgusting.”
It is not the first time Brewer’s comments on disability have been condemned. The independent councillor resigned earlier this year following publication of a standards committee report into a complaint into comments made to a charity worker in 2011 that disabled children could be “put down” to save taxpayers’ money. Mr Brewer somehow won back his seat in local elections on 2 May with 335 votes – a winning margin of four votes.
John Pring, who runs DNS, had tried on numerous occasions to interview Mr Brewer before the councillor finally agreed to talk. Mr Brewer told Mr Pring he discussed his previous statements about putting disabled children down with a farmer from his Wadebridge East constituency. He claimed the farmer made it clear he “didn’t see a lot wrong with what I said, because it is something they do every day’.
He added: “We are just animals. He obviously has got a point - you can’t have lambs running around with five legs and two heads. It would be put down, smashed against the wall and be dealt with.”
When asked if he believed there was not much difference between putting down a lamb and a child with two heads, he said: ‘I think the cost has got to be evaluated. It is not something I would like to do but there is only so much in the bucket.”
Mr Pring told The Independent he was “deeply disturbed” at what he was hearing. “I wanted to speak to Colin Brewer to find out if he really did hold these views about disabled people and social care costs – and he clearly does.”
In the transcript of the interview seen by The Independent, Mr Brewer goes onto to discuss “the terrible consequences of our breeding” due to “a tax system that encourages people to breed like rabbits”. When asked what his solution was, he said: “I think the Chinese had a way of doing it: one child family.”
Leading charity Mencap, and thousands of others, called on Mr Brewer to resign. Mr Pring said that it was important to expose Mr Brewer’s views again given that the bill allowing terminally ill people to be helped to die is tabled in the House of Lords tomorrow (Thursday).
The leaders of all Cornwall council’s political parties signed a letter saying: “Such views have no place in local government.”
Devon and Cornwall Police said: “This matter has been formally reported [and we] will now look into the comments made to establish whether any offence has been committed.”
Mr Brewer, who is currently off sick from work due to a series of strokes, did not return The Independent’s call.
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