The European Parliament has asked the Government to respond to claims that the Essex Euro MP has been denied freedom of expression and the integrity of Parliament damaged, it has been announced today (Thursday 27 October).
Labour’s Richard Howitt MEP received the news in a personal meeting with the President of the European Parliament, on how the Euro MP was physically ejected and prevented from undertaking interviews by Basildon Council at a media area they had set up in relation to the eviction of travellers from Dale Farm.
The news comes as senior political figures are rallying to support Richard Howitt MEP, led by Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
The leader of the 185-strong European Group of MEPs of Labour and its sister parties in the European Parliament, German MEP Martin Schulz said he was “disturbed” by what had happened and called for an official investigation by the European Parliament itself in to the treatment of Richard Howitt MEP.
Protests have been also been made by Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Communities, by the Leader of the Labour Euro MPs, by the Chair of the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee and even by Conservative voters who disagree with Labour’s Richard Howitt MEP but who have supported his right to be heard.
Leading the wave of protests in messages sent to Richard Howitt MEP and published on his website, Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government wrote:
The original incident occurred on Wednesday 19th October, when Basildon Council ordered its own security staff to physically manhandle Richard Howitt MEP, forcibly removing the Essex Euro MP from the media compound organised by the Council next to Dale Farm, where he had been present at the explicit invitation of regional television, with the written permission of the police and having properly informed the Council itself in advance.
Richard Howitt MEP has lodged a formal complaint to Basildon Council about its actions.
(From a press release)