Pat Marsh refuses to resign as councillor following antisemitism row
Feb 20, 2024
Pat Marsh pictured when she was last elected.

A defiant Pat Marsh has said she will not resign as a councillor following comments on X about Jews that have been widely condemned as antisemitic.

In a series of posts made over the past month related to the conflict in Gaza, Cllr Marsh described Jews as “vile”, “evil” and “a disgrace to the world”.

It led the Liberal Democrats to suspend her from the party yesterday but she denied the comments were antisemitic and said they were made to highlight her opposition to the ongoing war and the deaths of thousands of children.

Despite senior councillors on North Yorkshire Council calling on her to quit, Cllr Marsh told the Local Democracy Reporting Service this morning that she intends to sit as an independent for the remainder of her term of office, which is another three years.

She claimed she had received emails of support from residents urging her to carry on serving them in her Stray, Woodlands and Hookstone division.

Cllr Marsh said:

“I do not intend to resign I will complete this term of office as an Independent. I am receiving quite a few emails of support from my residents asking me to remain as their independent councillor.

“I have worked for my residents and the wider community for 33 years and will continue to do so until my term of office ends.”

However, Cllr Marsh’s comments about Jewish people may find her in breach of the council’s code of conduct which all councillors sign up to.

This includes ensuring councillors do not discriminate against any person, treat others with respect and must not bring the council into disrepute.

The Local Government Association says a councillor can be removed from their role by the local authority should they be found to have committed a serious breach of the code.

Council leader Carl Les said a complaint has been made to the council’s monitoring officer which could lead to a referral to North Yorkshire Police.

Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough Andrew Jones raised Cllr Marsh’s comments in the House of Commons yesterday evening during a debate about antisemitism.

He said:

“The most senior Liberal Democrat councillor in Harrogate and Knaresborough has been exposed for tweeting horrendous antisemitic comments for the past five weeks.

“She had hundreds of followers, including many senior local Liberal Democrats; she tweeted over 500 times on the subject, and those tweets were read over 10,000 times, so it beggars belief that no Liberal Democrat knew what she was saying.

“They must have known, but in the five weeks she has been tweeting, they did nothing until it was exposed in the media today.”

A Liberal Democrats spokesperson said there was “literally no evidence” to back up Mr Jones’ “unsubstantiated” claims.

They added:

“Ms Marsh was removed from her role in the party long before Andrew Jones made a comment. Andrew Jones had never raised these appalling remarks with the Liberal Democrats, until this afternoon in a press comment. These antisemitic views have no place in our party or our country.”

Campaign Against Antisemitism said the party had acted in a “swift and decisive” manner following the Tweets.

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