22nd Jan, 2018

Ethics committee hearing into 'racially abusive' exchange delayed

Coventry Editorial 29th Sep, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

AN ETHICS committee hearing into a Conservative councillor’s allegedly ‘racially abusive’ exchange with a city shopkeeper has been delayed following the death of an independent investigator.

The meeting on September 12 was due to discuss the behaviour of Coun Jaswant Singh Birdi during a heated exchange with Nagarajah Kuruparan, the owner of the Quick Shop store, in Harnall Lane East, earlier this year.

But the sudden death of investigating officer, Jeremy Thomas, caused the meeting to be postponed at the eleventh hour.

Mr Thomas, the head of law and governance at Oxford City Council, was brought in by Coventry council to independently investigate the alleged behaviour of the Conservative councillor for Bablake and write a report on his findings.

The 47-year-old was due to present this in front of the committee on September 12, but was taken ill the day before while taking part in a 50-mile charity bike ride.

He died later in hospital.

Commenting on the postponement, a Coventry council spokesperson said: “The Ethics Committee meeting was postponed following the death of the investigating officer, Jeremy Thomas.

“Our thoughts are with Jeremy’s family and friends at this sad time.

“The meeting will be rescheduled.”

Police were called to the Quick Shop on January 4 this year to find Coun Birdi and Mr Kuruparan engaged in a heated exchange over litter on the street outside the store.

Mr Kuruparan complained about the councillor’s conduct – claiming he had broken the council’s code of conduct, had been aggressive, and made racist remarks.

Mr Thomas had written a report into the incident, but Coun Birdi had rejected its findings and requested a public ethics committee hearing.

The ethics committee meeting will take place in due course.

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