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WATCH: Tense discussion as Moray Council gets new equalities champion after Juli Harris online comments resignation

By Alistair Whitfield

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Moray has a new equalities champion after the former one resigned following a remark on social media that was claimed to be Anglophobic.

Bridget Mustard (Heldon and Laich, Conservative) will step into the role, it was decided at a meeting of Moray Council today.

She succeeds Juli Harris (Speyside Glenlivet, SNP) who stood down this week.

Councillor Harris had replied to a photo on X, previously known as Twitter, showing a half empty room at the party’s conference in October.

It was accompanied by a comment saying the SNP was dead.

Believing the post came from an English football team supporters group, Ms Harris replied: "Rubbish, English wifey".

At today's council meeting Sandy Keith (Elgin North, Labour) began to ask why the post had become vacant.

He said: "How have we got to the stage where we've got a vacancy for the equalities post?"

At this point, Roddy Burns, the council's chief executive cut in, firmly stating: "Sorry, this has to stop."

However, a short while later, Derek Ross (Speyside/Glenlivet) raised the issue again.

He said: "Can I ask Mr Burns why he stopped any discussion regarding the equalities champion and the resignation?"

The chief executive replied that the reason for the vacancy wasn't on the meeting's agenda.

He added: "It stems back to the point of respect for the individuals, respect for the council and respect for the due process that brings the report to this meeting.

Cllr Ross responded: "Yes, I think this is definitely about respect. It is about respect for a considerable amount of our population."

Mr Burns said: The respect I was referring to was about individuals. There's also mutual respect amongst members, respect for the organisation. If members want a different report that will have to come before a different meeting of the council."

juli harris
juli harris

At this point, cllr Harris made it known that she would like to make a statement.

She said: "I have apologised to cllr Keith who made the complaint on behalf of colleagues and constituents.

"I have stepped down from my role as equalities champion which I valued greatly, and I've recently undertaken further equalities and diversity training.

"I fully support that we have to take care of our words and actions on social media. I will endeavour to do so in the future.

"I appreciate very much the many messages of support from colleagues and constituents regarding this matter and the work that I carried out as equalities champion.

"I would like to say also that I support unreservedly Cllr Mustard being elected to the role of equalities champion because I think she will do an absolutely brilliant job."

The same meeting also saw two other new appointments made.

Peter Bloomfield (Elgin South, Conservative) is now one of Moray's two older persons champion, joining Sonya Warren (Buckie, SNP) in the role.

Meanwhile, David Gordon (Speyside/Glenlivet, Conservative) has become the council's representative on the North East Scotland Pension Fund.

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