A councillor in Northumberland came under fire last night after issuing a newsletter featuring terror suspect Abu Qatada.
Northumberland County Councillor for Morpeth Ian Lindley produced the leaflet which includes comments supposedly from Qatada about issues in his Stobhill ward.
The Liberal Democrat was last night accused by political opponents of being crass and showing a lack of judgement, while there were calls for him to apologise to the people of Morpeth.
However, Coun Lindley insisted Qatada’s inclusion was a joke and accused his opponents of political point scoring.
Coun Lindley, who represents the Morpeth with Stobhill division, published and promoted the September issue of the Morpeth Stobhill Lib Dems’ Focus residents’ newsletter.
A picture of Qatada is accompanied a short piece under the headline “Abu Qatada writes from Qatar.”
It says: “I hear developers are targetting Stobhill for large scale ‘Executive Housing’.
“This makes me chortle, Western Dogs, and takes my mind off my own minor problems. Will the Telford Bridge seize up? Will you build the Stobhill-Loansdean link road?! What larks!”
Grant Davey, leader of the council’s ruling Labour group, last night said: “Coun Lindley should really know better.
“His comments in a leaflet were crass and show a distinct lack of judgement.
“After his leader’s objectionable comments about Blyth, now we’ve got Coun Lindley referring to the residents of Stobhill as ‘western dogs’.
“It’s clear Coun Lindley and his party owe Morpeth an apology.”
The Journal has seen an email sent by a man who works in a Northumberland school, who asked not to be named, expressing outrage at Coun Lindley’s newsletter.
It says: “I was completely dismayed by the appearance of the text that appeared in the Liberal Democrats’ residents newsletter which popped through my door this evening...
“There’s multiple problems with this piece of absolute tosh.
“What is the point of this lazy, crass and indeed humourless article? I just don’t get it. It really is not funny in the slightest? ‘Western Dogs?’ What’s all that about?..
“I’m really sorry but I find it totally unacceptable that the party that is an indirect descendent of the political organisation of that great Liberal, David Lloyd George, would even think about publishing such intolerant rubbish.
“If this was a residents’ newsletter from UKIP undersigned by Nigel Farage or indeed by the odious Tommy Robinson of the EDL, I would sneer and bin the newsletter without further thought.
“But the Liberal Democrats? Come on, is this how low the party and Liberal Democrat councillors in my area have sunk to. Really? I despair, I really do.”
Yet Coun Lindley, who stands as an indpendent Lib Dem, responded: “It is just intended to be a bit of light hearted jest.”
He said it was intended as an “amusing” way of communicating, with the newsletter also featuring a joke about potholes.
The councillor revealed every issue features comment by a world figure about Stobill issues, with the previous edition including North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un.
Of Labour’s comments, he added: “If they do not like it that is fine. They can print what they like in theirs, I would not take issue.
“If they find that a problem I would be interested in hearing why. At the end of the day, humour is a matter of personal taste.
“I am not really bothered if they find it unfunny or what, it is just a joke.
“I am sure they might find other people’s attempts at humour funny.
“There is lots of stuff I find in the Labour party (newsletters) I do not find funny.
“It is just cheap political point scoring. I think it is pretty desperate stuff.
“It is just an attempt to make trouble I think.”
Qatada was sent to Jordan in July after fighting an eight-year battle against deportation from the UK.
The 53-year-old is to stand trial for terror offences.