An Ilkeston councillor, sacked from the council cabinet over a ’sick joke’ he told about two policewomen killed in action last week, has said his punishment was ‘too harsh’.
Cllr David Stephenson told the joke to the wife of a serving police officer, who lives in Ilkeston and who immediately complained to leader of Erewash Borough Council Cllr Chris Corbett.
Sgt Jason Farrar, who worksfor Nottingham City police, told him that Cllr Stephenson had said to his wife and another woman: “If you get 100 points for shooting one policewoman and 200 points for shooting two policewomen, how many do you get for shooting a lawyer?”
The remarks were made on Thursday, just two days after Pc Fiona Bone and Pc Nicola Hughes died from gunshot wounds in an attack in Greater Manchester.
On Tuesday, Cllr Corbett revealed that he had sacked Cllr Stephenson from his role as lead member for resources and banned him from standing for election as a Conservative councillor ever again.
While he regretted what he said, Cllr Stephenson, who lives in a farmhouse in The Village, West Hallam, said his punishment was ‘excessive’.
“My view is that it was an error of judgement – a sick joke,” he said, “If I could turn back the clock I would un-say it.
“I never used profane language and I didn’t mean to offend anyone.”
But he added: “Under my financial leadership we have had zero rise in council tax for three years and my legacy will be a fourth.”
He will remain as a councillor for the Little Hallam ward in Ilkeston, but he said he will not resign.
Cllr Corbett condemned the joke in a video, which can be viewed on our website.
He said he was ‘appalled’ by Cllr Stephenson’s words, adding that his father was a police officer and his son works for the Metropolitan police in London.
“I support the police completely – they do a difficult job serving our community,” he said. “His words don’t reflect the views of either myself or the Conservative Party locally or nationally.”
Labour councillor Frank Phillips said he too was absolutely appalled pointing out it had echoes of an incident last week in which Tory Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell allegedly swore at a police officer in Downing Street and called him a ‘pleb’.
Erewash Tory MP Jessica Lee said: “I completely disassociate myself with the comments made by Cllr Stephenson.
“Once I was made aware of the comments, I reported the matter immediately.
“It certainly doesn’t reflect the way that I feel about the police. As the daughter of a public sector worker, I understand how committed and hardworking the force are. They have my full respect.”