Police are probing a cabinet minister’s allegedly “racist” campaign leaflet about a proposed new traveller site in his constituency.
The leaflet, from Welsh secretary David TC Davies, asks for opinions on a council consultation into the site in Monmouth.
But the flyer, sent to Mr Davies’ Monmouth constituents in July, sparked complaints of discrimination, with one advocacy group saying the MP’s “actions intended to create a hostile environment for gypsies and Travellers”.
It is now being probed as a potential non-crime hate incident, police have confirmed.
The title of the Tory-branded leaflet was: “Gypsy and Traveller site coming to your area soon!”
It went on to say: “Local MP David Davies believes that there will be insufficient consultation with the members of the public affected.”
The leaflet invited locals to get in touch with the Conservative party with their views on the matter, asking questions such as: “Would you like to see a Traveller site next to your house?
Despite the flyer’s contents, Suella Braverman believes investigating it is a waste of time, it was reported.
The home secretary suggested leaflets issued by MPs should not warrant a police probe.
A source close to the Ms Braverman told The Telegraph: “The police should be laser-focused on cutting crime and not investigating legitimate public concern.
“This appears to be a waste of time. The public want to see police out on their streets preventing crime and catching criminals, not inspecting MPs’ leaflets.”
Gwent police said officers are “reviewing” the leaflet.
A spokesman said: “We were aware of a leaflet published and distributed in Monmouthshire regarding proposals for a development of a Gypsy and Traveller site.”
Detective Inspector Steve Thomas added: “Officers are reviewing the content of the leaflet and its impact on the Gypsy and traveller and settled communities in Monmouthshire. We take any allegation of discrimination extremely seriously and we’re committed to ensuring our communities are safe places and welcoming for all.”
The leaflet addressed four potential sites to accommodate 13 Gypsy, Roma and Traveller households in Monmouthshire.
Some complained they were offensive and invited racist discrimination against Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.
Travelling Ahead, a Gipsy, Roma and traveller advice service based in Wales, was contacted by residents who it said were “absolutely horrified” by the leaflet.
Trudy Aspinwall, a project manager at the charity, told Wales Online: “You really would only have to substitute the words ‘gipsy and traveller’ for any other ethnic group and you would see that it is racist.
“There is no doubt that this was targeted at gipsies and travellers. They are protected under the Equality Act and there is a duty to not incite hostility or opposition based on race.”
Mr Davies has denied the leaflets were discriminatory, claiming they contained valid criticism of what he thought was an insufficient consultation period.
He said: “The location of authorised and unauthorised traveller sites is a legitimate matter for public debate and scrutiny. It is entirely valid to criticise a lack of wide public consultation by a council.
“I have been contacted by many upset residents at the shortness of the consultation and the proposed locations for the sites. I have also been told that many from the Gypsy and Traveller community are also upset at the proposed locations for the sites. This is not a criticism of the Gypsy and Traveller community.”
And deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden said he did not think the leaflets were racist.
He told Sky News: “I think that what David TC Davis was doing was highlighting the failure of the local Labour Council to carry out a proper consultation on this.
“That is entirely what people would expect their local members of parliament to do. He’s standing up for his constituents making their case for them, and I totally support his right to do that.”