Tory councillor ‘disturbed’ over Ian McKellen school visit nominated for mayor

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A Tory councillor who was “unhappy and disturbed” that gay actor Sir Ian McKellen had been visiting Bristol schools with Stonewall has been nominated for Lord Mayor.

Conservative councillor Chris Windows commented in 2010 that he was “unhappy and a little disturbed at the involvement of Stonewall with our local schools, and particularly the use of a certain leading actor as a potential role model for our impressionable young people.”

Mr Windows was suspended by the party for the comments, but later had the whip re-instated.

The Bristol Post reports that Mr Windows, councillor for Henbury, is now the Conservative Party’s nomination for the ceremonial post of Lord Mayor.

The post traditionally rotates between the parties, and nominations are usually unopposed, but Green Councillor Gus Hoyt said that his party would not support Mr Windows’ nomination.

He said: “Bristol has historically been a divided city and previous Lord Mayors have worked tirelessly to rectify and reverse this trend.”

“In previous years, the final election of the Lord Mayor has been mainly a formality with all groups voting in favour of the nominated individual. This year, the Green group will not support the nomination of Cllr Christopher Windows”

Mr Windows today released a statement defending himself from the claims.

He said: “At that time, I expressed reservations about the involvement of the organisation Stonewall, and the actor Sir Ian McKellen, visiting our schools in order to talk about homophobic bullying.

“I voluntarily suspended myself from the Group (and Council activities) until an investigation into my conduct had been undertaken by the Conservative Party.

“In addition, I personally arranged (at my own expense) to visit the headquarters of Stonewall, in London. Once this had taken place, and the internal enquiry into my actions satisfactorily concluded, I resumed my Council responsibilities.

“It is important to emphasise here that throughout this process, the allegation of homophobia was neither substantiated, nor pursued through the Authority’s own complaints procedures.”