'Freedom of Speech' Councillor Will Not Be Silenced

Councillor Dennehy is taking his case to the Court of Appeal

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An Ealing Councillor who lost a high court case over his controversial personal blog is appealing against the decision.

The case was originally taken to court by Benjamin Dennehy, of Hanger Hill Ward, who had refused to apologise after writing critically about Southall.

He had described it as a 'constant on the public purse' ' home to the worse concentrations of illegal immigrants in the UK' with ' gambling, drinking, drug, prostitution and crime issues unlike many other parts of London'.

The blog led to complaints and Councillor Dennehy was expelled as a Conservative Councillor, he is now UKIP.

In a ruling made before Christmas, Judge Martin McKenna agreed with Ealing Council that the comments '' had failed to treat others with respect and had brought the Council and the office of Councillor into disrepute.''

Mr Dennehy wanted the High Court to overturn this ruling claiming he had been 'expressing a lawful and legitimate opinion' and went to the High Court to seek a Judicial Review but the Judge ruled in the council's favour.

Cllr Dennehy - who is a lawyer - believes the ruling is wrong and says he is asking one of the senior courts in England - the Court of Appeal - for leave to overturn the High Court ruling.

He says:'' "We believe the judge has erred in law. Effectively what this decision has done is create a new category of speech that is prohibited for politicians. Councillors can no longer say things that could be considered inappropriate or provocative.

''This is madness in a democracy. I shall not sit back and take this on the chin. This undermines hundreds of years of principle. Who gets to decide what is provocative? How will anyone known when they are being provocative. It's bad law and a bad decision.

''This is not about me and Southall, it's about the type of democracy we want to live in. Whilst I'm being mocked by every other Councillor in Ealing, I know I'm the only one of 69 Councillors that actually cares about our freedoms. Their failure to condemn this decision shows how fragile our democracy really is. I'm not a coward, pity they are."

8th January 2014