Police candidate won't step aside over 'racist, sexist' comments
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016
A police chief candidate who made comments about migrants and women that were branded racist and sexist has insisted he will not stand aside.
David Moreland, who is standing to be Norfolk’s next police and crime commissioner, claimed the “vast majority” of sexual attacks on women were carried out by migrants and said women enjoyed being wolf-whistled by builders.
He insisted his comments, made in response to what action he would like to see in the county to help protect women after the murder of Sarah Everard, were not racist or sexist and the people accusing him did not “understand the realities”.
Mr Moreland, who has served in both the Army and Metropolitan Police, reiterated that he had a Muslim sister-in-law and grew up and served with West Indian people.
He said: “I've got no issues with black people, the only issues I've got at the moment are the illegal migrants."
He added: “The government is saying there is about 1m illegal migrants in the UK but if you go to migration watch are saying it is approaching 5m."
The number of illegal immigrants in the UK is unknown and the government has released no figure since 2005.
However, most estimates put it under 2m, with The Pew Research Centre, which offers some of the highest estimates, saying there were between 800,000 and 1.2m unauthorised immigrants in Britain in 2018.
On claims of sexism, Mr Moreland said: "You go back to the 70s and I can remember when a building was going up and a gorgeous woman walked past and the guys would just whistle to her, 'go on, how gorgeous'.
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“Just this morning I spoke to several women of that sort of age and said ‘did you find it offensive?’ and they said no."
Mr Moreland described responses from Janet Dalrymple, chief executive of Safe Places, and Natasha Harpley, a Broadland councillor, as "completely wrong" and said he would “expect a slap” if he was sexist - denying that their comments were a verbal equivalent.
He added: “There's only two women on there, do these women understand the realities of what's going on there? I don't think they do."
Asked how they could not understand the situation when one runs a domestic abuse support service, Mr Moreland replied they were wrong to call him sexist, but insisted he was not “having a pop at them".
Mr Moreland’s opponents for the commissioner role have called for him to stand aside.
Conservative candidate Giles Orpen Smellie said sexual violence, harassment and heckling of women was completely unacceptable and said whoever took on the role must address the problem.
“Mr Moreland doesn't seem to understand the seriousness of this issue,” he said. “He also doesn't seem to understand the unacceptable nature of labelling people as criminals solely on the basis of their ethnicity.
“Mr Moreland's remarks are unacceptable and he should stand down as a candidate.”
Labour’s Michael Rosen questioned if the community could put its trust into someone holding those views.
He said: “How effective would our police be with a PCC who relies on social media and chats with old mates to decide his policies?
“The PCC is a role that demands a grasp of evidence about what works, an ability to engage with the community, and a commitment to treating everyone fairly and without discrimination."
The Green Party’s Martin Schmierer said politics should be based on facts, “not mistruths or hearsay” and said the public wanted to hear what candidates would do to tackle issues surrounding women’s safety.
John Crofts, the Liberal Democrat candidate, also called for Mr Moreland to stand down, saying he was “flabbergasted” by his comments and thought the days of people thinking wolf-whistling was acceptable were over.
Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, called Mr Moreland’s comments “just horrible” and without evidence.
He said: "Anyone who genuinely cared about women's welfare wouldn't hijack women's anger, fear and concerns about safety to flaunt such antediluvian prejudices."
Adding: "Let's make absolutely sure people with views like that get absolutely nowhere near any kind of power."
Asked if he would step aside, Mr Moreland said: "Absolutely not, no way what so ever.”