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Euro-Labour leader backing for silenced MEP - 2011-10-21

Labour’s leader in the European Parliament has expressed grave concern at news that Richard Howitt, the Labour MEP for the Eastern Region, has been prevented from representing his constituents during the politically charged eviction of travellers from the Dale Farm site in Basildon.

On Wednesday 19 October Mr Howitt had been invited by a number of media outlets to give his perspective on the controversial action by Conservative-run Basildon Borough Council. However, he was prevented from doing so when council officials ordered him to leave the area from which media were operating near the site.

Glenis Willmott MEP, said: “Richard Howitt is a prominent and hardworking MEP who has a public duty to represent his constituents across the Eastern Region, and that includes representing voters in Basildon.

“Free speech is a basic tenet of our democracy and Richard Howitt was attempting to fulfil his duty as an elected representative covering the Basildon area.

“I understand that Conservative politicians had access to the media area to enable them to give their views on the events at Dale Farm, so it is outrageous that officials were restricting access for someone holding critical views of the way the council has handled this case.

“Richard has fully rebutted the arguments made by Basildon Council in its response to this incident.

“This stinks of a politically motivated attempt to silence opposition to the Council’s actions."

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