Councillor arrested over antisemitic tweets

Councillor Pat Marsh.

A North Yorkshire councillor has been arrested over antisemitic tweets.

North Yorkshire Police say a woman, understood to be Councillor Pat Marsh, has been arrested in connection with an investigation into posts shared on X, formerly known as Twitter.

A spokesperson said: “She has been arrested on suspicion of displaying threatening, abusive or insulting written material with intent or likely to stir up racial hatred.

“She remains in custody while enquiries continue.”

The arrest comes as leading councillors call on their colleagues to sack Councillor Pat Marsh from an influential committee.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive approved making an unprecedented move to issue advice to one of the authority’s six independent area constituency committees after a furore erupted over a series of statements over the Israeli offensive in Gaza made by the chair of the Harrogate committee.

While not binding, decisions of the constituency committees are taken seriously by the authority as they are seen to reflect the will of residents in the area.

Despite being suspended by the national Liberal Democrat party and condemned by her North Yorkshire party colleagues, Coun Marsh has rejected claims her remarks she published on Twitter from January to Friday were antisemitic.

The posts included: “Hope you Jews feel proud of yourselves. Remember what happened to you during the Second World War why would you do the same? Act like adults and get round the table to get a fair and lasting solution.”

Another post stated: “We can’t believe what your Jewish country is doing to Palestinians it is outrageous, killing children cutting off their hands and other atrocities do you not feel frightened for them!!!”

After receiving complaints about Coun Marsh’s posts, both the Liberal Democrat Party and council have launched investigations.

After the meeting, elected members said the executive’s move was likely to intensify pressure on Coun Marsh, coming a day after the leaders of several political groups urged her to step down as the elected member for Stray, Woodlands and Hookstone in Harrogate.

During the executive meeting at County Hall in Northallerton, the Conservative-run authority’s deputy leader Councillor Gareth Dadd raised his hand to ask “a constitutional question” about whether the executive could “give feedback” to the council’s constituency committees.

He said: “Is it a two-way street, if for example, we are unhappy with the chair of a committee – whilst it is within their power to appoint that chair – can we send a message back that we’re unhappy?”

The authority’s senior legal advisor, Barry Khan, told the executive it was free to express dissatisfaction to “anywhere they want to”, but the appointment of its chair was a matter for the area committee.

Coun Dadd then said: “Given recent reported events and the suspension by a political group of an individual that currently chairs the Harrogate area constituency committee, I think that my view would be that the suspension should be reflected by that area constituency committee and they take whatever measures they deem necessary to remove that chair.”

While Coun Dadd’s comments were seconded by executive member for health and adult services, Councillor Michael Harrison, who is also a member of the Harrogate area committee, none of the leading councillors accepted an invitation to counter Coun Dadd’s views, ahead of the move being approved.

3 Comments

  1. Very sad when you can no longer say what you think without being arrested.

    If everyone was arrested for saying what they think the jails would all be full.

    It seems to mater most just about the person that says it.

  2. Unfortunately a lot of people still don’t know the difference between anti-semitism and anti-Zionism. Those of us who do should not be castigated for being better informed.

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