IRA blast survivor files complaint against bomb row councillor

Coun Florence Anderson Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, left,  presents Edna Rochester with the Community Champion award'Pride of Wearside Awards 2009
Coun Florence Anderson Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, left, presents Edna Rochester with the Community Champion award'Pride of Wearside Awards 2009
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AN IRA bomb blast survivor has filed an official complaint against a prominent Sunderland councillor in an ongoing row over a Facebook terrorism joke.

As reported in the Echo, former Sunderland City Council deputy leader Florence Anderson has been suspended from the Labour party for “liking” a page on the social networking site calling for the IRA to bomb a Tory party conference.

More than 500 people have signed up to a Facebook group in support of Coun Anderson.

Now businessman Richard Elvin, a survivor of the 1996 IRA London Docklands bombing, has submitted an official complaint calling for the Hetton councillor to be hauled before the council’s standards committee.

He said: “I think it’s an absolutely appalling way to go on.

“You have to be very careful what you say and what you do.”

Mr Elvin added that as somebody who had witnessed an IRA bombing first hand, he found Coun Anderson’s actions “disgraceful”

Mr Elvin is also chairman of the North East committee of anti-European party UKIP, which came second behind Coun Anderson in Hetton in last year’s council elections.

A number of other complaints have been sent to Sunderland City Council, which could trigger action by the authority’s standards committee.

The committee has the power to impose sanctions on councillors, including suspension from duties.

In his letter of complaint, Mr Elvin, who is also from Hetton, wrote: “(Coun Anderson’s) Facebook site clearly states that she is a member of Sunderland City Council and Hetton Town Council, and by association she has brought both councils into disrepute and brings into question her honesty and integrity and has behaved quite improperly.

“Sunderland City Council has a policy of ‘equality’. How can you have a councillor who believes that if you don’t agree with her political point of view you should be bombed – which presumably means killed.”

Mr Elvin escaped serious injury when the IRA broke a ceasefire and targeted London’s regenerated commercial district.

The bombing killed two people, left 39 in hospital and caused £85million worth of damage.

Mr Elvin was blown by the blast, but was far enough away from the centre to avoid being seriously harmed.

“I was in the area seeing about setting up some new offices,” said Mr Elvin, who owns a travel business.

“I was walking down the street and a policeman came running towards me shouting ‘run the other way’.

“I saw all the brickwork and everything rolling down the street towards me and I just turned and ran.”

Mr Elvin was blown down by the blast and suffered from hearing loss afterwards – but said his memories made Coun Anderson’s actions hard to follow.

He dismissed protestations that the remark was a joke or tongue-in-cheek.

“It’s not just politically incorrect, it’s morally incorrect,” he said.

A council spokesman said the authority could not comment on or confirm if any complaints had been received.

He said: “Councillors are required to comply with a code of conduct which sets out standards of behaviour.

“Procedures are in place for alleged breaches of this code to be considered by the city council’s Standards Committee. It is not appropriate to comment any further on the matter.”

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