Monmouth: Welsh Secretary reported to police over ‘dangerous’ Gypsy and Traveller leaflet

Gwent Police say they are now reviewing the leaflets which were sent to Monmouth constituents. Credit: Twitter/@TravellingAhead & PA

A political leaflet raising concerns about Traveller and Gypsy sites by the Welsh Secretary has been branded "dangerous" and "outrageous".

It comes as police announced they will be reviewing the contents of the leaflet sent by Monmouth MP David TC Davies to his constituents.

The leaflet, titled "Gypsy and Traveller site coming to your area soon!", asked people to fill out a form to gauge their opinion on the proposal to establish sites in their area.

Speaking to ITV Cymru Wales, Lu Thomas from Gypsies and Travellers Wales said that the Welsh Secretary's actions "whip up hate, mistrust and anxiety within communities that then are targeted against the Gypsy Traveller community who are innocent in all of this.

"There’s nothing wrong with putting these applications in, but whipping up hate and distrust and questions against a protected community is dangerous and that is outrageous", she added.

Gwent Police said they were aware of a leaflet published and distributed in Monmouthshire regarding proposals for a development of a Gypsy and Traveller site.

Detective Inspector Steve Thomas said: “Officers are reviewing the content of the leaflet and its impact on the Gypsy and Traveller and settled communities in Monmouthshire.

“We take any allegation of discrimination extremely seriously and we’re committed to ensuring our communities are safe places and welcoming for all.” 

In a statement, Mr Davies defended his actions saying the location of sites was a "legitimate matter" for public debate.

It is understood that the Equality and Human Rights commission have also received complaints.

A spokesperson said: “The EHRC receives complaints each week about allegations of unlawful activity contrary to the Equality Act 2010. We consider each complaint carefully and take action where appropriate.”

The Conservative MP has been accused of targeting the Gypsy and Traveller community. Credit: Twitter/@TravellingAhead

It was the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller advice and advocacy service,Travelling Ahead, who first raised concerns about the Conservative flyer via Twitter.

Its project manager, Trudy Aspinwall, described what she thought was a 'direct discriminatory, racist leaflet".

She said: "Our concern when we saw it was that there was a deliberate targeting of Gypsy and Travellers in terms of rousing up concerns about sites that Gypsies and Travellers have been waiting for for some time in Monmouthshire".

The Conservative minister has faced criticism from several various Gypsy and Traveller groups across Wales Credit: PA

In a statement, the Conservative MP said the “location of sites was a legitimate matter for public debate."

“I have also been told that many from the Gypsy and Traveller community are also upset at the proposed locations for the sites. This is not a criticism of the Gypsy and Traveller community", he added.

Defending his colleague, Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden said Mr Davies was "standing up for his constituents, making their case for them and I totally support his right to do that."

When asked if he thought the language on the leaflet was racist, the deputy PM told Sky News: "No, and I think what David TC Davies was doing was highlighting the failure of the local Labour council to carry out a proper consultation on this."

Speaking on TalkTV, the Labour MP for Swansea East, Carolyn Harris said: "I've got to say on a personal level TC is a very nice man, on a professional level, he is known for gaffes and this is another one of his gaffes. The leaflet is inappropriate."

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