UKIP AM Michelle Brown to face committee over racial slur

Michelle Brown

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Michelle Brown has already accepted that her language was inappropriate

A UKIP AM will be questioned on Tuesday by the assembly’s standards committee about a racial slur she used to describe a Labour MP.

Michelle Brown was recorded making the comment about Chuka Umunna in a telephone conversation with an adviser.

She has already accepted her language was “inappropriate” and has apologised.

If the committee recommends a sanction – which could range from a reprimand to a suspension – there would be an assembly vote on it.

The cross-party standards of conduct committee is considering a report on the matter written by the Standards Commissioner Sir Roderick Evans.

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Ms Brown and UKIP Wales leader Neil Hamilton will give evidence to the committee.

If the commissioner has concluded Ms Brown broke the code of conduct governing AMs’ behaviour, the committee will then decide whether to recommend she is sanctioned.

Ms Brown called the Labour MP a “coconut” during a conversation in May 2016 with her then senior adviser, Nigel Williams.

She was also recorded using an abusive remark about Tristram Hunt, who was then Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central.

Mr Williams, who was her senior adviser for 12 months, was sacked by Ms Brown in May 2017.

The chair of the committee, Jayne Bryant, will not take part in proceedings on Tuesday because the group she belongs to in the Senedd, Labour, made the original complaint.

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Image caption

Chuka Umunna was briefly a contender for the Labour leadership in 2015

When the recording came to light in July 2017, Michelle Brown, a regional North Wales AM, said: “The point I was making is that because of his considerable wealth and privilege, Chuka Umunna cannot possibly understand the difficulties and issues that the average black person faces in this country any more than I can, and I stand by that assertion.

“I do however accept that the language I used in the private conversation was inappropriate and I apologise to anyone that has been offended by it.

“As far as the language I used about Mr Hunt is concerned, it was a private conversation and I was using language that friends and colleagues often do when chatting to each other.”

The Labour assembly group called for Ms Brown to be suspended and referred the matter to the Standards Commissioner.

A Labour spokesman said Ms Brown had used “absolutely outrageous language” that “lays bare the disgusting racism at the heart of UKIP”.

At the weekend, UKIP suspended Jo Marney, the girlfriend of its leader Henry Bolton, after she reportedly wrote racist messages about Meghan Markle.

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