The saga surrounding Phil Woolas’s 2010 election campaign has taken yet another bizarre twist. A couple of weeks ago I reported on a key witness who gave evidence for Woolas at the election court who is now appearing in court herself for benefit fraud offences.
Now it has also emerged that another one of Woolas’s big supporters is being investigated by the organisation for which he works for apparently homophobic comments made about the Lib Dem candidate outside a mosque in Oldham during last year’s election campaign.
Mohammed Tufail was president of the Pitt Street Mosque in Oldham at the time of the campaign last year, but is now living in Wales as director of an organisation called Cardiff and Vale Race Equality First – an ‘equality’ organisation that receives substantial public funding.
During the election campaign, a group called the Muslim Public Affairs Committee were active in Oldham, calling on voters to vote tactically for the Liberal Democrat candidate to defeat Phil Woolas, who they had taken objection to on a number of issues, particularly the nature of his election campaign.
On one occassion, when MPAC supporters were handing out leaflets outside the mosque of which Mr Tufail was president, he confronted them – and a video has now been uploaded to the Internet showing what was said. Here’s what the Wales Online website (who have the video) says took place:
The video shows Mr Tufail confronting one of the men distributing the leaflets. Flanked by other mosque members, Mr Tufail is seen to say – referring to Mr Watkins – “He is openly gay”.
When the leaflet distributor says: “It doesn’t matter – it’s about policy,” Mr Tufail responds: “You’re from the Muslim Public Affairs Committee. The man is openly gay and you say it doesn’t matter?”
The Muslim activist says again: “That’s not the issue”.
Mr Tufail states: “What is the issue?” before turning to the cameraman and saying: “Switch that camera off or I’ll ram it down your throat”.
The board of the equality organisation have said they are going to investigate Mr Tufail, who, it seems, had a little less to say when Wales Online got in touch with him.