HIGHLAND Council Tory group leader Andrew Jarvie has vehemently denied being Islamophobic after his name appeared on a list of allegedly racist politicians on a social network.
He was accused along with two dozen fellow Conservative councillors and 10 Tory MPs from across the UK – including high-profile party colleague Jacob Rees-Mogg – of being part of a racist private Facebook group.
Councillor Jarvie was implicated on the "2700 member" so-called "Conservative Debating Forum" (CDF) which can apparently be "joined by invitation" or "by permission of its administrators" and is said to be "the second largest pro-Tory group on Facebook," according to a posting last weekend on "The Red Roar" Facebook page. The Red Roar website was created "to report news and gossip from Westminster and beyond". It claims the CDF "carries several posts a day regarding Muslims or Islam".
Cllr Jarvie said he had quickly established, after being tipped off by Conservative headquarters, that a number of councillors’ names including his were added to a list of forum so-called members without their knowledge.
"The first time I knew I was a ‘member’ of it was when I got a phone call from our central office on Monday morning, saying it had happened and to make sure I was aware of it, and come off it," he said.
"I have never taken part in the posting and never even knew what was going on in the group itself.
"There’s no link or evidence of what any elected person has said or done as part of that group."
He added: "It’s very disappointing that we’re guilty of affiliation when that’s most certainly not the case. Most of us quoted had no idea what was going on in this group."
A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: "Andrew was added to this group by an external source, something he had no knowledge or control over. He completely disagrees with the offensive content highlighted and distances himself from it in the strongest possible terms."
Council opposition leader Maxine Smith said: "My strong advice to Councillor Jarvie would be that as the new Tory group leader, he really must distance himself from such vitriol and bigotry."