Row as London councillor accuses Exmouth business of 'pandering to racists' with Twitter posts

PUBLISHED: 13:16 06 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:16 06 November 2019

London Newham Councillor Mas Patel (L) and George Nightingale, owner of Spoken in Exmouth. Pictures: Newham Council/ Alex Walton/ Twitter

London Newham Councillor Mas Patel (L) and George Nightingale, owner of Spoken in Exmouth. Pictures: Newham Council/ Alex Walton/ Twitter

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A London councillor has accused an Exmouth business owner of 'pandering to racists' following a war of words on Twitter.

A tweet posted by Spoken on October 31. Picture: TwitterA tweet posted by Spoken on October 31. Picture: Twitter

The account of the bar/restaurant Spoken, in the Strand, became involved in a Twitter exchange following comments made on BBC Question Time about Prime Minister Boris Johnson's comparing women wearing burqas with letterboxes.

Mas Patel (@maspatel01), a Labour councillor in the London Borough of Newham, posted: "WoW: Johnson destroyed on BBC Question Time by hijab-wearing Politics teacher!

"'Why do we have a Prime Minister who gets away with inciting hate...who goes against our British values?'"

The Twitter account for Spoken (@spokenexmouth) responded: "Want that then go to the Middle East!! Want to live in Britain then accept Britain for what it is!"

A tweet posted by Spoken on October 31. Picture: TwitterA tweet posted by Spoken on October 31. Picture: Twitter

Cllr Patel posted in reply: "Want what exactly? And why should she or anyone 'go to the Middle east?'. Do you have a problem with people who dress differently?

"Come one let the hate flood out! You know you want to..."

Spoken responded: "It's not hate, it's not racism. British culture is the same as (say) Indian culture and each should be respected. What 'we' white British rather than immigrants, whether first or fifth generation think is that British culture is first in Britain."

Spoken continued: "Total opposite of a racist just putting a view across. Maybe one day what you think (of) as racists will be a minority that you'll defend (laughing emoji)"

George Nightingale, owner of Spoken, has not confirmed who posted the tweets but he was present when they were written. He has since removed them.

When first approached by the Journal Mr Nightingale said: "If he wants me to apologise to him, then I will gladly do it."

Cllr Patel, who is Muslim, told the Journal: "I think he (Mr Nightingale) needs to be extremely careful with the words he uses on any platform within social media.

"It was absolutely abhorrent and does not reflect what most people in the country believe.

"He is pandering to racists and people who would like to see our country's democratic values to be eroded."

The councillor has since sought to pursue the argument on Facebook, where Mr Nightingale responded that Cllr Patel's 'efforts in this are totally misplaced'.

He writes: "Nothing racist from us here, just a difference of opinion. Apologies if you don't like it but lots of things we all don't like. I'm running a Michael Jackson night next week and have had abuse sent that I support paedophilia - should I go to the police about it? No I just ignore it, Peace and love to all."

Mr Nightingale has declined to provide further comment.

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