Wellingborough councillor King Lawal launches legal battle after he says he was 'cancelled' and lost his job amid appearance on right-wing comment channel GB News
A Wellingborough Conservative councillor who said being gay was a sin has launched a wide-ranging legal action against the organisations who he claims ‘cancelled’ him.
As exclusively reported in this newspaper, committed Christian Cllr King Lawal, (Queensway, Con) landed himself hot water after he tweeted that pride was a sin and claimed that gay people should repent. In a follow-up interview with the Northants Telegraph doubled-down on his comments and confirmed that he believed being gay was a sin.
A number of organisations that he was involved with then distanced themselves from him and he was suspended from others, including his own party. He has also had to resign as a director of his own company. Cllr Lawal was asked to stand down from his position on the Groundwork board and suspended from Weavers School, where he sat on the Academy Council
Last night, while his fellow North Northamptonshire Council Tory group members were meeting for an update on his fate, he was appearing on conspiracy-peddling GB News with MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, a traditionalist ultra-Brexiteer who is himself a committed Christian.
Cllr Lawal is now being represented by the Christian Legal Centre, the legal arm of the evangelical group Christian Concern that campaigns against homosexuality. The legal centre found itself at the centre of controversy after a high court judge described its lead counsel in the Alfie Evans case as a ‘fanatical and deluded young man’. The centre also represented the mother of Archie Battersbee and argued that he should be kept alive even after doctors said he was ‘brain stem dead’.
In a statement on Christian Concern’s website, Cllr Lawal said his life had been ‘torn apart’ since the story was made public, and said he had been cancelled by seven organisations. He said one local authority with whom his business had a contract had demanded he resign.
He was also banned from holding a joint police and council surgery in Rushden Library.
He said he has been warned of a possible police investigation.
The statement said: “The repercussions faced by Cllr Lawal are unprecedented, demonstrating that Christians who hold public office can no longer express their beliefs without having their careers and lives dismantled.
“Supported by Christian Legal Centre, Cllr Lawal has instructed lawyers to prepare legal action alleging multiple violations of his rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
“A local authority who hold a substantial council contract with Cllr Lawal’s family business ordered an urgent meeting.
“The family were given an ultimatum that unless Cllr Lawal was removed immediately as a director the contract would be withdrawn. At the same time, the company was also informed that it would face snap reviews and inspections by council monitoring teams within Northamptonshire.
“Under extreme and potentially illegal pressure, Cllr Lawal was forced to resign from his own company which he had built and grown.”
The exact nature of the legal action has not yet been revealed.
Cllr Lawal said: “As the only black councillor in the whole of Northamptonshire, I know what it is like to be in the minority, and I would never discriminate against anyone. I have diligently represented all my constituents; however, I must also be free to express my beliefs without fear.
“The blunt emails and cancellations I received were shocking and hurtful. There was no respect, no conversation and no reasonableness.
“There were times when my heart was pounding and everything was spinning out of control over one tweet.
“What has happened shows that I am not free and that this is not a free country anymore. If it was free, I would be able to speak.
“The message my story sends is that Christians must stay silent on these issues, or else. What I expressed was not something I made up in my mind, it is what it says in the Bible.
“How I have been treated is really troubling for a democratic society. It must ring alarm bells and should concern everybody who cares about Christian freedoms and free speech as this can now happen to anyone that is not in support of this extreme LGBT movement.”
Appearing in the studio on GB News last night, Cllr Lawal was questioned by Rees-Mogg who claimed that his views were representative of the catechism of the Catholic church and that ‘to be offended is not to support what then followed’.
Cllr Lawal said he had put out the tweet originally because he was ‘angry’. He said he was quoting ‘biblical truth’.
"The morning which I tweeted this I’d seen tweets with quite perverse things with naked men shaking their bottoms around children,” he said. “It disgusts me and brought a righteous anger within me.”
He said Groundwork Northamptonshire had immediately asked him via email to resign and then council leader Cllr Jason Smithers (Con, Oundle) had phoned him and suspended him for 21 days ‘on instruction from Conservative Campaign HQ’. CCHQ have denied this happened and said the investigation will take place locally.
Cllr Lawal told Rees-Mogg: “There’s been complaints I’ve been hateful, I’ve been discriminatory, which is against my belief as a Christian to start with. I love all people as the bible tells me to.”
GB News is itself experiencing an ‘massive’ advertising boycott which presenter Michelle Dewberry says is ‘because politically-motivated online pressure groups have made it their lives work to try and close us down.’
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “What has happened to Cllr Lawal has been brutal and is a clear case of viewpoint discrimination against a standard expression of Christian belief.
“The pace at which Cllr Lawal has been essentially removed from public life for expressing his beliefs is disturbing as he has been democratically elected and undemocratically cancelled.
“Local authorities, schools and even libraries cannot be allowed to discriminate against and exclude Christians and their beliefs under the increasingly draconian and oppressive banner of ‘inclusivity.
“We stand with Cllr Lawal and will support him through multiple legal cases unless he is fully reinstated, his reputation restored, and his business protected.”
At last night’s Tory group meeting, members were given a brief update on the proceedings against Cllr Lawal, although no decision has yet been made on his future within the party. This newspaper has also been told there are also several complaints being dealt with by council officers under standards rules.