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Tory council chief under fire as Facebook group ‘celebrates’ Ulez camera vandalism

 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

The Tory leader of Harrow council was under fire on Friday after it was revealed he helps run a Facebook group where members celebrated the destruction of cameras policing the Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion.

Paul Osborn is an administrator of the “Harrow say no to Ulez expansion” page, along with a number of other councillors and senior local Tory Party figures.

Several posts in the group, which has 1,500 members, have celebrated masked vigilantes tearing down the cameras, which will be used to monitor the clean air zone when it expands to outer London boroughs in August.

Transport for London has reported 96 allegations of criminal damage to Ulez cameras.

One post linking to a news story about the destruction was captioned “well done” and a commenter added: “This is not vandalism, the is re-establishing our freedom of movement and rights as Londoners. I applaud all the people who are acting on our behalf.”

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Another said: “When politicians do not act on the wishes of the public, the public can and do turn against their rulers. In the UK we have been tolerant for too long.”

Others accused London Mayor Sadiq Khan of visiting terrorists and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of being connected to Jimmy Savile.

Labour MP for Harrow West Gareth Thomas said: “The leader of Harrow council is... facilitating a platform through which criminality is being celebrated.

“For a public servant to give succour to those who commit or endorse vandalism is not only deeply irresponsible but outright dangerous.”

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Shortly after the Standard asked Harrow council about the posts, Councillor Matthew Goodwin-Freeman, a moderator in the group, said comments encouraging the removing or defacing of cameras “cannot and will not be allowed”.

He posted an update to the group rules, adding: “We must challenge Sadiq Khan’s Ulez through proper channels: the Judicial Review in July, petitions, at the ballot box etc. Encouraging vandalism/illegal activity (however jokingly) does not help the Group’s cause and just won’t be accepted.”

The posts have been deleted. A Tory Party spokesman told the Standard: “Obviously, the Conservative Party does not encourage vandalism.”