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Medway councillor Mike Franklin sparks investigation over 'offensive' tweets about Islam

By Chris Hunter

Comments by a Conservative councillor on social media are being investigated after being described by his opponents as "extremely offensive".

Cllr Mike Franklin's Twitter posts have been referred to Medway Council’s monitoring officer.

They include a retweet of a post which said the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, had been "worshipping the devil" alongside a photo of Mr Trudeau kneeling in a mosque.

Michael Franklin
Michael Franklin

Several other messages, some of which have since been removed from his account, promoted anti-Islamic views, which opposition councillors said were inappropriate, particularly from someone representing a socially and ethnically diverse ward.

The Luton and Wayfield councillor took to Twitter a few months before his election in May last year and has since drawn attention for a number of tweets – prompting the online blog The Political Medway to publish a collection of them in January under the title The Troubling Tweets of Conservative Councillor Michael Franklin.

Medway Labour leader Vince Maple expressed concern at last week's council meeting, saying: "I am a defender of freedom of speech but when you are elected to represent one of the most diverse wards in Medway, which is home to one of Medway's longest-serving mosques, you have a responsibility to represent all members of the community.

"I may be what you call a veteran councillor, and I'm naive to Twitter. A couple of judgements weren't perhaps right" - Cllr Mike Franklin

"I am therefore requesting that the monitoring officer supplies me with written advice on whether he believes this article highlights anything that could be seen to be in breach of the code of conduct."

Speaking this week, Cllr Franklin admitted some of the tweets had gone too far.

"I may be what you call a veteran councillor, and I'm naive to Twitter," he said. "A couple of judgements weren't perhaps right. I don't even remember more than one about Justin Trudeau.

"I've said nothing that implies that I hate anybody or that I'm racist," he said. "It's a political argument used to attack me."

He suggested that he was being excluded from certain community discussions in Luton and Wayfield, saying Labour were "getting involved in discussions on things happening in Luton and Wayfield, basically because they lost the seat and they don’t like it".

Labour councillor Tristan Osborne, who also represents the ward, said he was unsure what Cllr Franklin meant by his exclusion and that residents and groups were entitled to communicate with whoever they wanted.

"The fact is his tweets were inappropriate," he added. "He's someone who has been in politics for many years – he was on Rochester council for many years – and he should have a common-sense view about what is appropriate."

Another retweet showed a photo of Muslim political activist Anjem Choudary, captioned with: "Westerners need to accept the fact that Islam will dominate all lands it touches! The holy Koran teaches us that where we put our feet we shall rule that land, it's that simple."

Cllr Franklin retweeted that with his own comment: "Anyone still have doubts?"

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