London mayor’s advisor quits after ‘go home’ race row

June 24th, 2008 - 5:04 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 24 (IANS) James McGrath, the deputy chief of staff to the mayor of London, has been forced to quit after advising Caribbean immigrants to “go home” if they did not like London. McGrath, who is an Australian and a key advisor to London’s new Tory Party mayor Boris Johnson, said his remarks had been taken out of context but accepted he would have to leave City Hall immediately.

Johnson is said to have decided to let go of McGrath after consulting with Tory Party leader David Cameron, who said the Australian political strategist had shown an error of judgement but that he was not “some Neanderthal backwoodsman”.

“I’m sad for James because I know that he is not racist and he is a good person, but in politics you have to make judgements all the time and we have to face the consequences of misjudgement,” Cameron said Monday.

McGrath made the controversial comments in an interview with a journalist who asked him to comment on the suggestion by black writer and broadcaster Darcus Howe that Boris Johnson’s election as mayor could cause an exodus of Caribbean immigrants from London.

He replied: “Well, let them go if they don’t like it here.”

McGrath later clarified: “To imply that I meant that all black people who didn’t support Boris Johnson should leave the country is utterly absurd and incorrect.”

Mayor Johnson said: “James is not a racist. He shares my passionate belief that racism is vile, repulsive and has no place in modern Britain. But his response to a silly and hostile suggestion allowed doubts to be raised about that commitment.”

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