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Race champion ousted from policing forum
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
A COMMUNITY champion has been ousted as chairman of an influential forum, prompting an outcry from members.
Members of the Lambeth Community Police Consultative Group (CPCG) reacted angrily to news that long-standing racial equality campaigner Clarence Thompson had been removed as chairman of the forum late on Monday night.
Vice-chairman Paul Andell and vice-chairwoman Sandra Moodie both left their posts alongside Mr Thompson.
The CPCG’s board has said it was due to a breakdown in relationships between key officers that was “paralysing” the organisation.
This led to a vote for the chairman, vice-chairman and vice-chairwoman to stand down, which was supported almost unanimously.
Supporters of Mr Thompson said his removal was “unprecedented” and could spell the end of the forum in the borough.
At the meeting at Lambeth Town Hall on Tuesday evening, Mr Thompson described the move against him as a “coup d’état.”
He said: “I had some concerns about things that were happening within the realm of the board.
“I asked for a meeting to address these issues, but the board failed to address the issues I raised.
“It became a coup d’état.”
Mr Thompson was honoured with an MBE in 1965 for his work on racial equality and was also a founder of the Race Relations Board.
He said:?“The CPCG board removed me and installed a new executive. It was led by Wesley [Walters-Stephenson] and supported by Lee [Jasper] and Hannah [Mir].”
Mr Jasper and Ms Mir were elected vice-chairs in Monday’s closed meeting in an uncontested vote.
Mr Walters-Stephenson, the new chairman, was forced to quell a call for a public debate on the matter, citing procedural reasons.
He said: “It is of the utmost importance that people are informed about these changes.
“But this is a public meeting and issues pertaining to members have to be discussed at a members’ meeting.”
However, this was not enough to satisfy many of those in attendance, who were frustrated that the matter could not be dealt with on the night.
John Howard, who was involved in setting up the CPCG in 1981, demanded answers . He said: “I believe this is unprecedented in the history of this organisation.
“We need to have some form of conversation at this meeting.
“This is so serious, it could be the end of this group.”
Members of the CPCG will now hold an emergency meeting on July 31 to discuss Mr Thompson’s removal.
All content © of South London Press unless stated otherwise.
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Sir Ray Tindle
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