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Swale Borough Council leader Andrew Bowles criticised for retweet in support of far-right activist Tommy Robinson

Swale Borough Council leader Andrew Bowles has shrugged aside criticism of him after retweeting support for far-right activist Tommy Robinson.

The founder of the English Defence League was this week permanently banned from Facebook and Instagram for repeatedly breaking policies on hate speech.

The tweet in question said the decision to ban Mr Robinson was a "disgraceful injustice" and urged people to retweet it if they agreed, which Cllr Bowles, who represents the Boughton and Courtenay ward, did.

Swale council leader Andrew Bowles
Swale council leader Andrew Bowles

"I think it is pathetic. As an old fashioned liberal with a small 'l', I still believe in freedom of speech," Mr Bowles told KentOnline.

"I endorse his right to have have his say as I would same as everyone else."

Cllr Bowles said it did not mean that he was endorsing the views of Mr Robinson.

"I don't know enough about him. I expect that if I ever met the man I would find him totally obnoxious."

Asked if he felt retweeting a message that criticised the decision to ban Mr Robinson from various social media platforms including Facebook might be read as support for him, Mr Bowles added: "I wasn't aware that I had created that impression.

"It is something out of nothing - there are bigots on both sides of the equation."

Far-right activist Tommy Robinson has been banned from social media platforms
Far-right activist Tommy Robinson has been banned from social media platforms

Liberal Democrat county councillor Anthony Hook says he intends to ask the leader of Kent County Council to withdraw the whip from Cllr Bowles as a result of his actions.

He tweeted: "Personally, I'm disappointed Andrew hasn't seen this was very wrong and made it clear he opposes Tommy Robinson.

"People will think he's courting the votes of TR (Tommy Robinson) supporters."


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