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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Cumbrian mayor apologises to UKIP for Twitter slur

The mayor of Workington has apologised to a UKIP member after describing the party as “racist and homophobic”.

Andrew Lawson  photo
Andrew Lawson

The comments were made in an online spat between Mark Jenkinson, who set up west Cumbria’s first recognised branch of the UK Independence Party, and Andrew Lawson, the 21-year-old town mayor.

The disagreement on the social networking site Twitter started when Mr Jenkinson said that Labour appeared to have adopted the UKIP’s stance on immigration.

Mr Lawson responded that he did not know what had been said “but it can’t be half as bad as you and your racist pals, oh and homophobic”.

He subsequently apologised but Mr Jenkinson at first refused to accept it because he felt Mr Lawson had said sorry for any offence caused, not for the offence itself. Mr Lawson issued a full Twitter apology on Wednesday.

He tweeted: “I would like to publicly apologise to @markjenk @uknoel and @UKIP for any offence I may have caused in my misinformed and unjustifiable comments made in any of my previous tweets. I am sorry. Regards, Cllr Andrew Lawson.”

Mr Jenkinson accepted his apology and tweeted back: “Wld like 2 think its not just lip service and you’ve taken some time to read policy and understand your misinformation.”

Speaking to the News & Star, Mr Lawson said: “We just had a disagreement and I have apologised and it’s water under the bridge now. I did it off my own back and it’s all resolved and me and Mark are both sorted.”

But Mr Jenkinson has asked that his complaint be referred to Allerdale standards committee and asked Barbara Cannon, as chairman of the constituency Labour Party, to also treat it as a complaint.

Mr Lawson had previously called Noel Matthews, the Cumbrian chairman of UKIP, and his party “fascists” in a tweet in July.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Matthews said: “It’s a tired argument that doesn’t stand up to any scrutiny. It shows the weakness of their point of view.”

Mr Matthews, who has a Filipino wife and two mixed race children from a previous relationship, said he could not stand for a racist party and added that he had so far received no apology from Mr Lawson.

This is not the first time a Labour politician from Cumbria has caused offence on Twitter. Copeland MP Jamie Reed became embroiled in a sexism row when he made comments about a ‘mustachioed’ woman on the same train as him.

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