Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Remarks row councillor quits party

Durand Academy plans to open an Eton-style boarding school in the Sussex countryside
Durand Academy plans to open an Eton-style boarding school in the Sussex countryside

A councillor has resigned from the Conservative Party after making "thoughtless and extremely foolish" comments about immigrant school children.

John Cherry claimed Pakistani children would fail to "rise to the top" and some nationalities were "uncertain" what hard work is about.

The Chichester councillor was responding to proposals by a south London academy to open an Eton-style boarding school in the West Sussex countryside. He warned the children would want to "escape into the forest - it will be a sexual volcano".

But after being heavily criticised for the comments, Mr Cherry resigned from the Conservative Party and apologised. He said: "My remarks about Durand Academy, as reported in the Mail on Sunday today, were plainly wrong. They were thoughtless and extremely foolish. I unreservedly apologise and withdraw them. I very much regret the distress this must have caused."

The plans of the Durand Academy, which is based in Stockwell, south London, have sparked some opposition from people living near the proposed boarding school site. The proposal is to use St Cuthman's School, a disused boarding school in Stedham, West Sussex.

Mr Cherry, who represents the village, told the Mail on Sunday: "Ninety-seven per cent of pupils will be black or Asian. It depends what type of Asian. If they're Chinese they'll rise to the top. If they're Indian they'll rise to the top. If they're Pakistani they won't. There are certain nationalities where hard work is highly valued. There are certain nationalities where they are uncertain what this hard work is all about.

"If the children are not allowed out of the site then it will make them want to escape into the forest - it will be a sexual volcano. Has anyone asked whether these children want to be plucked from their natural surroundings? They have never done boarding before, so they won't know how it works. The trauma of taking the children out of their natural surroundings is going to be considerable."

The Wellington and Cambridge-educated chartered accountant has lived in the area for more than 30 years, according to the Chichester District Council website. His biography on the website says the "committed Christian" is "passionate about the preservation of this beautiful area for current and future generations, within a framework run by local people".

Labour MP Kate Hoey, whose Vauxhall constituency contains the academy, said on Twitter: "I invite Cllr Cherry to visit Durand Academy in Stockwell to meet those who will be boarding. Stedham will gain hugely from their presence."

The Tories had begun action to suspend Mr Cherry before his resignation. A spokesman described the comments as "totally unacceptable" and said they "do not reflect the views of the Conservative Party".

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