London mayoral candidate joins Facebook group hosting Islamophobic hate speech: Report

Europe
Thu, 2 May 2024 8:10 GMT
Group focused on ultra-low emission zones operated by Conservative party staff and activists among those cited in joint investigation by Observer and Unearthed.
London mayoral candidate joins Facebook group hosting Islamophobic hate speech: Report

Susan Hall, the Conservative Party candidate for London mayor, has joined a Facebook group containing Islamophobic hate speech and abusive comments about her opponent, incumbent Sadiq Khan, a report said Wednesday.

According to a joint expose by the Observer newspaper and Greenpeace's investigative unit, Unearthed published over the weekend, Hall was already a member of at least six private Facebook groups presented as local grassroots campaigns against the expansion of ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) schemes to reduce air pollution but which were "in fact run by Conservative Party operatives."

The report showed that the latest group contained Islamophobic hate speech, conspiracy theories and abuse, some of them about Khan over his ULEZ policy.

The contentious ULEZ policy, which involves a daily charge to drive in the zones if vehicles do not meet certain emissions standards, was first announced in 2015 and went into effect in central London in 2020.

In August 2023, the ULEZ was expanded across London in an effort to help improve air quality in the British capital.

Since then, if a vehicle does not meet the ULEZ standards and is not exempt, the driver must pay a £12.50 ($15.60) daily charge to drive within the zone in London.

It was found that Hall's official Facebook account had become a member of another group in the network called “Bexley say no to ULEZ expansion” the day after the expose was published.

Speaking to the Guardian, Khan said these revelations "could have a direct impact on not just my safety, but the safety of my family and staff."

Unearthed reported Wednesday that Hall declined to comment on the issue.

On Thursday, local elections will take place in England and Wales. Voters in London will also go to polls to elect the mayor and members of the London Assembly.

Along with Khan of the Labour Party, Rob Blackie of Liberal Democrats and Susan Hall of the Conservative Party are among the candidates.

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