The head of Plymouth City Council has been suspended from the Conservative Party for comments “blaming the victims” after telling women “not to put themselves in a compromising position” after the murder of 18-year-old Bobbi-Anne McLeod.
Councilor Nick Kelly spoke about women’s safety in Plymouth following the discovery of McLeod’s body in Bovisand, near Plymouth, Devon, on Tuesday. “Everyone has a responsibility not to try to put themselves in a compromising position,” Kelly told ITV two days later.
McLeod left his home in Plymouth around 6 p.m. on November 20 and disappeared from a nearby bus stop shortly after. Cody James Ackland, 24, has been charged with his murder.
After an angry weekend, when Tudor Evans, the Labor opposition leader of the council, called Kelly’s comments “callous and arrogant”, Plymouth Sutton and the Conservative Devonport Association suspended Kelly on Tuesday.
The local Conservative Party said in a statement: “Cllr Nick Kelly’s membership in the Conservative Party has been temporarily suspended pending an investigation following comments he allegedly made.”
Kelly remains head of the board but now serves as an independent.
Her comments propelled her to the center of a debate over victim blame and women’s safety in a year in which Wayne’s kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, 33, by Wayne Couzens, a Met police officer on duty, took place. Philip Allott, the Conservative Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire until his resignation in October, sparked fury for suggesting that Everard should not have “submitted” to the bogus arrest of Couzens and should have been more “street”.
Evans said: “Once again we see a prominent man giving unwanted advice to women on how to behave while going about their normal business. I think Cllr Kelly should think about his remarks and apologize immediately.
Kelly tried to clarify her comments and said they were taken out of context. “If I told my daughter to go out at 3 am to less sanitary areas, would that be responsible parenting? He said on Friday. “It’s not that you shouldn’t be doing this, but we live in a world, not just in Plymouth, where there are unwanted people who want to inflict pain or harm and that’s what I was trying to get across. “
But Kelly initially refused to apologize. “Clearly, I don’t feel the need to apologize, but if I do, I have by no means hinted that Bobbi-Anne had done anything wrong. “
He then published a letter “wholeheartedly apologizing … if the statements I made earlier this week have caused distress and anger.”
Police confirmed on Tuesday that the body found 10 miles away near Bovisand Beach following a large-scale police operation had been officially identified as McLeod’s.
In response to Kelly’s refusal to apologize, a group of 16 women politicians in Plymouth signed a joint letter calling for “a full and proper apology.”
They said, “As the leader of our city, you must be unequivocal about blaming the victims and be aware of the power of your words. We ask you, once again, to reflect on what you said and the real distress it caused. So, perhaps, you will understand why a full apology and retraction is necessary, stressing that the real “responsibility” of everyone is not to harm others. “
“Women are very often accused of doing things that happen to them,” said Sue Dann, deputy leader of the Plymouth Labor group and signatory of the letter. “It was just a woman standing on the main road, going about her daily life.
“So Councilor Kelly insinuating that people should take responsibility is incredibly irresponsible. “