Tory councillor David Stephenson sacked over dead Manchester Pcs joke


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Indy Politics

A Conservative councillor has been sacked after making a joke about the shooting deaths of two policewomen.

David Stephenson was removed from his post on Erewash borough council in Derbyshire after his comments about Pcs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, who were killed last week in a gun and grenade attack in Greater Manchester.

Chris Corbett, leader of the council, said he was "appalled" to hear about the comments which Mr Stephenson had made in front of the wife of a serving police officer, and had removed him from his post.

Mr Stephenson said: "If you get 100 points for shooting one policewoman and 200 points for shooting two policewomen, how many do you get for shooting a lawyer?"

The woman told her husband, a sergeant with Nottinghamshire Police, about the comment, and he complained to the council.

The sacking comes as the row continues over comments reportedly made by Conservative chief whip Andrew Mitchell to two police officers in Downing Street.

Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, were killed as they went to answer a routine 999 call to a burglary on the Hattersley estate in Tameside, Greater Manchester, last week.

Dale Cregan, 29, has been charged with their murder and the murders of two men, father and son David and Mark Short, in two separate attacks earlier in the year.

In a statement, Mr Corbett said: "I was appalled to learn of the words used by councillor Stephenson to a lady who unbeknown to him was the wife of a serving police officer.

"I have taken immediate and severe action by removing him from his post as a lead member of the Borough Council and he will no longer serve on the council executive, to take effect immediately.

"It is not possible to remove him as a borough councillor as he has been elected to that position by residents in his constituency. However, his name has been removed from the list of approved Conservative candidates and he will not be allowed to stand for re-election.

"As regards to his position as a member of the Conservative Group, there are rules which have to be followed, however disciplinary procedures have already begun. This is a matter for the Conservative group as a whole, but things will be progressed as quickly as possible.

"I support the police completely in the difficult job they do serving our communities and want residents to know that the words used by councillor Stephenson do not reflect in any way the opinions of myself or the Conservative Party locally or nationally.

"As the father of a serving police officer myself, I am well aware of the hurt being suffered by the police force at present and know the worries experienced by their families.

"I apologise for the great upset this matter has clearly caused to all those involved."

Speaking from his home near Ilkeston in Derbyshire, Mr Stephenson said: "If I've caused offence to anyone I am really very sorry. I never intended to and if I could turn back the clock i would.

"I don't know the lady who made the complaint but I apologise to her for any offence caused.

"I'm totally against the use of guns and have always been for the banning of short weapons such as pistols."