A VOLUNTEER has stepped down as a senior member of a community group after sharing an online message that compared Muslim immigrants and asylum seekers to armed "invaders".
Croydon Communities Consortium (CCC) said vice-chairman Clive Locke's departure was prompted by pressure from the council, claiming it had threatened to withdraw "funding, support and engagement" unless he resigned.
In September, the council – which provided the group with a one-off grant of £5,000 in 2013 – received a complaint about an offensive message Mr Locke had shared on social media network Twitter.
Mr Locke, also the chairman of Broad Green Business Forum, had re-tweeted a post saying "Tick-Tock" alongside a picture of a bearded man pointing a handgun next to the words: "It's not immigration. It's not asylum seeking. It's an INVASION."
When asked about the message by the Advertiser, Mr Locke apologised and said he had been trying to start a "debate".
The council passed the complaint on to the police – who took no further action – and wrote to Elizabeth Ash, chairman of Croydon CCC, to say it would be "inappropriate" for the authority to continue to have "dealings with him in his capacity as a community worker". It added that it would not tolerate harassment, victimisation or unlawful discrimination of any kind.
Mr Locke, who said he had been "incredibly naïve" and insisted he was not Islamophobic stepped down in October.
His resignation was confirmed in a statement on the organisation's website this week, which also included a swipe at how the council had handled the situation.
The CCC said Mr Locke was a man of "unblemished character" who had met with "widespread support from across the diverse communities in Croydon" following the allegations.
It said the group had been told by the council on October 13 that it had four days to "insist on Clive's resignation or they will withdraw all funding and any support or engagement with CCC".
The statement added that, without further information it had requested from the council, the group had been placed in an "impossible position". Mr Locke, it added, had felt he had no choice but to quit.
He had not responded to requests for a comment as the Advertiser went to press on Thursday. It is not clear whether he has retained his position on Broad Green Business Forum.
The statement concluded that both organisations were "extremely unhappy with the council's handling of this matter and will continue to work together with others to get to the bottom of how this has come about".
A council spokeswoman said: "The council could not ignore this issue and took appropriate action. The council is now satisfied that the matter is closed."