Scotland politics

Lib Dem councillor resigns after party accuses him of sharing extremist material

Drew Millar
Image caption Councillor Drew Millar said he intended "no slur on any religion"

A Liberal Democrat councillor has resigned after the party accused him of sharing anti-Islamic material on social media.

The Highland Council Lib Dem group said Drew Millar of Skye shared material from far-right group Britain First.

Mr Millar said he did not think the material was from Britain First and claimed he had no intention of "stirring up religious hatred".

The party said it had been investigating the allegation.

In a statement, the Lib Dem group said: "In early October, the group was made aware that Councillor Drew Millar of Skye had shared with friends on his Facebook page images and comments which came from Britain First, an extreme right-wing organisation.

"This was anti-Islamic material used by Britain First to stir up religious hatred.

"The group immediately acted to make the convener of the Scottish Liberal Democrats aware of this and he initiated the process of investigating the complaint.

"Under party rules this is a matter for the office bearers of the National Executive, who have an obligation to follow due process and conduct the investigation in a thorough and impartial manner.

"Due to the nature of the material, Councillor Millar was given the opportunity to voluntarily stand aside from his position as chair of the Community Safety, Public Engagement and Equalities Committee while the investigation was underway.

"He declined to do so and has subsequently resigned from the Lib Dem Group on Highland Council and resigned his membership of the Liberal Democrats."

'Unacceptable'

The statement continued: "In the strongest possible terms, the Liberal Democrat group condemns the dissemination of such material as utterly reprehensible and wholly unacceptable."

Mr Millar told the BBC that he had been willing to co-operate with the investigation.

"In my opinion I had done nothing wrong and had agreed to meet the complaint group," he said.

He said he shared pictures of demonstrators holding "banners against freedom of speech", adding: "I don't think it was from Britain First."

He said he had been asked to step down from council committees during the investigation but had refused, arguing that he was "innocent until proven guilty".

He said: "I shared things that I thought people should be aware of.

"I was in no way, in my mind, stirring up religious hatred."

He also said he had shared a post describing Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg as a "cretin", a sentiment he said he agreed with.

The Lib Dem group said it would nominate a new chair of the community safety committee at a meeting on 30 October.

A statement from the Highland Council said: "The council notes the decision of the Liberal Democrats group and it confirms that the position of chair of the Community Safety, Public Engagement and Equalities Committee is a matter for the council.

"The deputy chief executive will conduct an investigation on the basis of any evidence presented."

Mr Millar broke ranks with his party in September when he announced he was backing Scottish independence.

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