22nd Oct, 2017

Councillor apologises after probe into off-mic 'abuse' in immigration row

Coventry Editorial 17th Feb, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A LEADING Coventry councillor has issued apology letters following a council investigation into his offensive tweets and off-mic abuse caught on camera towards a resident at a public meeting.

But his recent tweets suggest he has not learned from the episode, despite pledges in the apology letters to do so.

As we exclusively revealed in November, business cabinet member Kevin Maton was alleged to have described one of the speakers, who asked to remain anonymous, as a “stupid ignorant t***” under his breath.

Coun Maton had also taken to Twitter to wrongly allege the resident was a UKIP supporter.

The informed resident – who had been articulating his researched concerns about council plans to build homes on the Greenbelt – lodged an official complaint to the council.

We can reveal Coun Maton has now issued two apology letters, including one to the man and his wife, who was recording in close proximity to Coun Maton as her husband spoke at the November 7 meeting at Allesley village Scout’s HQ, attended by 300 people.

But on Friday, Coun Maton published on his Twitter account another comparison with UKIP before the offending re-tweet was deleted, after being reminded of his previous insults.

Asked by the Observer in November if he could have used “offensive” language, Coun Maton refused to deny it, instead saying: “I am amazed that our officers remain as tolerant as they do. Sometimes I wish I had their patience.”

The speaker who has lodged the complaints said: “I had conducted weeks of in-depth research and that was dismissed in an offensive and abusive manner by a councillor, which really upset my wife and me.

“I was making the point that Coventry’s population has increased from around 300,000 in 2000 to 329,000 mainly because of migration and immigration, according to the council’s own facts, and if growth continues at that rate as the council hopes it will be 430,900 by 2033.

“I also used the council’s own research showing 34.9 per cent of private sector properties are unfit, and argued new homes should first be built in regenerated poorer central parts of the city, not the Greenbelt.

“I also object to the slur by Coun Maton that I must be a UKIP supporter if I express such concerns. I am not.”

Coun Maton has faced recent criticism as a vocal proponent on building on the Greenbelt, and for his key role in the council’s private deal to sell Coventry City Football Club’s Ricon Arena stadium on a long lease to reportedly loss-making and indebted London Wasps, upon which he told the BBC “business is business”.

In an apology letter, he denies recalling he used the words at the public meeting, but adds: “I do accept it was inappropriate and I am sorry for the upset and distress that I caused. In future I will moderate my behaviour so that this will not happen again.”

The second apology letter regarding three tweets which he deleted after the council investigation repeats the same apology and adds that his UKIP tweet “was not designed in any way as an attack on you personally.”

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