UKIP AM Michelle Brown to be banned over racial slur

Michelle Brown

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Michelle Brown is expected to be excluded from the assembly without pay for a week

UKIP’s Michelle Brown is expected to be excluded from the Welsh Assembly without pay for a week over a racial slur she used to describe an MP.

Members of the standards committee said the North Wales AM’s comment about Chuka Umunna in a private phone call brought the assembly into disrepute.

Ms Brown apologised for causing offence and argued the term was not racist but lost an appeal.

It will be the first time the assembly has punished an AM in such a way.

Ms Brown called the Labour MP for Streatham a “coconut” in a phone call in May 2016 to Nigel Williams, who was her senior adviser at the time.

The slur was preceded by an expletive.

A report from the committee said coconut was a “term of racial abuse, and as such utterly unacceptable”.

If AMs back the standards committee’s motion to exclude Ms Brown on Wednesday, she will be unpaid and banned from proceedings in the Senedd until next Thursday.

Mr Williams released a recording of the phone call to the Daily Post newspaper last summer, prompting complaints to the standards commissioner Sir Roderick Evans by the assembly Labour group of AMs and others.

The commissioner’s investigation found the use of the term coconut fell “below the standard of conduct required of assembly members to maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence”.

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Michelle Brown had used a racial slur to describe Chuka Umunna in a private phone-call

Ms Brown had denied breaching the code of conduct, adding the term was not racist and that she had been was making a “socio-political point”.

But Neil Hamilton, UKIP Wales leader, conceded to the standards committee that the term was a form of “racial abuse” but said it was “at the lowest level of severity”.

The committee – including Welsh Conservative AM Paul Davies, Plaid Cymru’s Llyr Gruffydd and UKIP AM Mr Bennett – agreed with the commissioner that it was not realistic to say that the conversation was private as she was discussing the terms of employment of a person who she was considering employing.

Following the decision, which was leaked to BBC Wales in February, Ms Brown appealed, but a former high court judge threw the case out.

The process, which had to be conducted by a senior independent legal professional with experience in undertaking written appeals, cost the assembly £2,700.

A spokesman for Ms Brown claimed the first they heard of the appeal decision was through a phone call from the BBC but that was denied by the assembly commission.

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