UPDATE: Councillor resigns Labour whip at after Facebook posts

OPPONENTS have demanded the resignation of a Labour city councillor who shared Facebook posts comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and referring to welfare as a reward for laziness.

Last week the Oxford Mail reported how Ben Lloyd-Shogbesan's posts had been brought to the attention of council leader Susan Brown just hours before he was re-elected.

The council leader said they were ‘extremely disappointing’ posts but they were not made public.

The Oxford Times:

However, the content of the posts have now been revealed and include criticisms of 'multiculturalism' and gay marriage.

In one, he shared a black and white picture showing a small boy with his hands up, a Nazi guard behind him holding a gun. To its right, a colour picture is attached showing a small boy facing an armed soldier.

The two are captioned together: "A picture worth a thousand words: on the left: Nazi Germany. On the right: Apartheid Israel."

That post was shared by him online in July 2014, just months after he was elected to serve a second consecutive term as a city councillor.

The Oxford Times:

In screenshots of Mr Lloyd-Shogbesan’s Facebook profile, uncovered by the Cherwell newspaper, he shares praise for the former Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi and bizarrely refers to cancer as ‘not a disease but business’.

He also shared a prayer given by a US minister described as 'interesting'.

The prayer says: "We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare."

Leaders of all other major parties in Oxford have called on Mr Lloyd-Shogbesan to resign or be sacked.

Liberal Democrat group leader Andrew Gant said the comments would be found ‘utterly abhorrent’ by ‘all decent citizens of Oxford’.

The Oxford Times:

The Green Party’s leader Craig Simmons said the posts were ‘totally unacceptable’ while the Conservative leader said the Labour councillor's position was untenable.

Mr Lloyd-Shogbesan was first elected in Lye Valley in 2010, re-elected in 2014 and is now set to serve a third term until 2022.

But, referring to previous accusations of anti-semitism within the national Labour party, Dr Gant said: “Council leader Susan Brown has described his comments as ‘disappointing’. This is nowhere near good enough.

"It is sad to see the poison that is infecting the Labour Party nationally appearing here in Oxford, along with the same feeble response from the leadership.

“It is incredible that Councillor Lloyd-Shogbesan was reselected by the Labour Party, and that he remains a Labour councillor since these appalling comments came out."

The city council said it was unable to confirm whether any official complaints had been made regarding Mr Lloyd-Shogbesan’s conduct.

Mr Lloyd-Shogbesan, who has deleted his Facebook account, has declined to give any further statement beyond what he said in a press release last Monday. In it, he apologised for ‘any offence’, and said that the posts ‘do not reflect [his] views now’.

It is understood he will refer himself to the city council’s standards committee.

In the authority’s code of conduct, councillors are ‘accountable for [their] decisions and actions to the public’ and must submit themselves ‘to whatever scrutiny is appropriate’.

Mr Simmons, who is Jewish himself, said: “Personally, I think Mr Lloyd-Shogbesan should resign or be sacked and a by-election held. Such behaviour is totally unacceptable.

“But the correct process to follow is to refer him to the cross-party standards committee where his actions can be judged, the evidence scrutinised, and the correct sanctions applied.

“This can include a permanent or temporary suspension. We also need to look at the wider issue of when the posts went public and whether those councillors who knew about them had a duty to report them sooner. It may well be significant that the posts where made before the local elections but were only reported afterwards.”

Ms Brown has said she was made aware of the posts and asked for them to be removed. She added he had apologised and that she had referred him to the national Labour Party.

Yesterday she confirmed Mr Lloyd-Shogbesan has now referred himself to the council’s standards committee and will ask to make an apology to a full council meeting.

A national Labour Party spokeswoman said the party has received a complaint over the comment and that Mr Lloyd-Shogbesan had issued an apology.

She said: “All complaints received by the party are investigated in line with our rules and procedures.”

But Oxford Conservative Association chairman Tim Patmore said in a letter to Ms Brown: “Assuming that the reported contents of his social media posts are borne out, OCA is calling for Councillor Lloyd-Shogbesan to recognise that his position is no longer tenable and to tender his resignation.

“We know that you share our commitment to a civil square in which all are welcomed, and all act and speak in a civil manner. We trust that your handling of this matter will reflect this commitment and we look forward to receiving assurances that Oxford Labour will take appropriate steps to address the seriousness of the councillor’s actions.”

UPDATE: 

Mr Lloyd-Shogbesan sent an email late last night to fellow councillors, before the publication of the Oxford Mail. 

It reads: 

Dear fellow councillors

I am sure that you are all aware of recent publications in Cherwell news about my reposting of images and comments from other organisations and individuals on my Facebook account. 

I regret the repostings and would like to offer my profound apologies to colleagues on Oxford City Council for any hurt or discomfort they may have endured.

I have deleted my Facebook account and the offensive posts.

I am also making overtures to the Synagogue and the Jewish community and other groups and communities affected in order to engage in positive and meaningful discussions about concerns and how best to redress the situation going forward 

Lastly, I have referred myself to the Oxford City Council Standards Committee for them to investigate and I will cooperate fully with subsequent developments. 

I am not and have never been antisemitic or racist or homophobic in all my life.  I have worked hard to challenge injustice and discrimination  and promote equality and diversity at all times and would continue to do so.

If any member would like to talk about it,  please let me know.  Thank you. 

Best wishes 

Cllr Ben Lloyd-Shogbesan 

Lye Valley Ward