Councillor who said rivals wanted to 'kill people' won’t face hearing

The SNP's Will Mylet claimed Labour and Conservative governments were 'more than happy' to put money into nuclear weapons and have 'the ability to commit genocide'.

SNP councillor who said rivals wanted to ‘kill people’ won’t face hearing LDRS

An SNP councillor who accused political rivals of “wanting to kill people” during a debate on independence won’t face an ethics hearing.

Will Mylet, a Paisley East and Central rep, made the comments at a council meeting in June last year – claiming Labour and Conservative governments were “more than happy” to put money into nuclear weapons and have “the ability to commit genocide”.

He said: “You want to kill people, you don’t want to feed people. That’s the difference and that’s what I want to change.”

In a statement to a Conservative member, he then said austerity amounted to “no more than the murder of the people that you’re here to look after”.

Councillor Mylet’s language was investigated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner (ESC) after a complaint from Councillor Alec Leishman, deputy leader of the Conservative group.

The Standards Commission for Scotland reviewed the findings and in a report on its decision – which confirmed it would take no further action – it was suggested the connection between political policies and deaths of citizens “might be categorised as hyperbole”.

The ESC advised the remark “that opposing parties could commit genocide and kill people, if made without basis, could potentially be considered disrespectful” – amounting to a “low-level breach” of a section of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct which requires them to behave with courtesy and respect.

However, it was acknowledged that as a politician speaking during a debate, Councillor Mylet would be entitled to the “enhanced protection to freedom of expression” provided under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Reflecting on the decision, Councillor Mylet said: “Given some of the things that have been written by the commissioner and commission, I’m not sure if they’ve ever been in the West of Scotland but they can come and have a look at the nuclear submarines and see for themselves that they’ve got the ability to commit genocide. It’s a factual statement, it’s not anything else.

“And also when I said Tory policies have killed people, there’s now been research done by Glasgow University and other bodies that have clearly stated that people have died by Tory austerity measures.

“The things that were said in that chamber were actually factually correct – not hyperbole as was insinuated.

“I would only add that the Tories need to have a look at themselves and decide whether they’re happy to be Tories while these things are going on in their name.”

Responding, Councillor Leishman said: “Instead of doubling down and even rejecting comments on hyperbole, Councillor Mylet should be reflecting on the unacceptable language he used.

“If he doesn’t care for my opinions, perhaps he should look at how his local MP colleague Mhairi Black has talked about toxicity in politics as a reason for standing down and refrain himself from such insulting remarks in the future.

“I entered Renfrewshire Council keen to work in a constructive and cross-party way, but Councillor Mylet’s tone is a world away from that.

“He also must recognise that the commissioner found him guilty of breaching the code of conduct for councillors.

“His remarks about the nuclear deterrent on the Clyde are also nothing new to me.

“My step-father worked for 25 years on the Clyde and I make no apologies for supporting continued use of it, especially in light of current Russian aggression.

“I am keen to move on from this sorry incident and continue focusing on delivering for my constituents in Erskine and Inchinnan.”

A Standards Commission spokesperson said: “We would wish to reiterate that the requirement in the Councillors’ Code for councillors to behave in a respectful manner towards everyone, including their political opponents, is fundamental, as it ensures a minimum standard of public debate and that public confidence in politicians is not undermined.

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