A UKIP councillor who made "inappropriate and provocative" comments about Southall's Indian community on his blog can have no complaint about Ealing Council's decision to discipline him, the High Court has ruled.
Benjamin Dennehy, of Hanger Hill Ward, refused to apologise after describing Southall as "largely an Indian community" that "harbours and exploits their own people in squalid third world living conditions" in a blogpost last year.
After being expelled from the Tory party, Mr Dennehy was found to have breached the local authority's code of conduct and asked not to repeat the conduct and apologise by the council's standards committee in May. A top judge at London's High Court has now rejected Mr Dennehy's bid for judicial review of that decision, saying claims the council disproportionately breached his human rights are "unarguable".
Judge Martin McKenna said the controversial comments were made by the then-Tory on his blog in March 2012, under the heading: "CLLR Benjamin Dennehy (Conservatives) putting Hanger Hill residents first".
It read: "It is a largely Indian community who say they deplore this behaviour but yet it is that very same community that harbours and exploits their own people in squalid third world living conditions."
Mr Dennehy's blog then questioned why there was what he called a "concentration" of gambling shops, prostitutes and drinking in Southall.
He went on: "The exploding population of illegal immigrants is a constant on the public purse. Illegal immigrants don't pay tax. The legitimate immigrants exploiting them in squalid bed sheds don't pay tax on their rental income."
Mr Dennehy was expelled from the Conservative Party in April 2012, but remained a councillor, later joining UKIP. A standards committee probe was triggered when Lib Dem councillor, Gary Malcolm, of Southfield ward, complained after he was contacted by members of the public, Judge McKenna explained.
The investigating officer, Jackie Adams, delivered a report in August, 2012, saying she was "satisfied that the tone, style and choice of wording in the post was written in such a way that it did cause offence to some residents".
In May, this year, the committee ruled that, "whilst the blog post raised a number of important and legitimate issues for debate, the tone and much of the content had been inappropriate and unnecessarily provocative". The committee said Mr Dennehy's post "represented unacceptable behaviour for a councillor" that should not be repeated and requested that he "issue an appropriate apology" in a letter to him on May 23.
At the High Court, Mr Dennehy's lawyers argued that the committee failed to give "adequate reasons" for its conclusion and that its sanctions breached his right to freedom of expression, under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. But Judge McKenna said today the committee's reasons were "plainly adequate" and that it "cannot be arguably said" otherwise.
The judge said that, while "on the face of it" the sanctions constituted a breach of his Article 10 rights, they were justified because the comments were an "unjustified personal and generic attack on a section of the public".
He said: "The subjects of the speech were not politicians but ordinary members of the public and, as such, the comments did not attract the higher level of protection applicable to political expressions. And the comments would plainly have undermined confidence in local government, the preservation of which is a recognised aim of the code [of conduct]."
The judge added that the committee's "interference" with Mr Dennehy's right to freedom of expression was "very limited" because he was "merely requested" to apologise - something he has chosen not to do.
"For all these reasons, I conclude that the council's decision, although engaging Article 10 of the Convention, was plainly a proportionate interference. It follows that this application for judicial review is unarguable and I refuse permission," he concluded.