Ian Austin MP

Independent MP for Dudley North

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Austin backs Dudley vicar Andrew Wickens in UKIP row

Ian Austin MP has backed Dudley vicar Andrew Wickens in a row with UKIP over his prayers at a council meeting.

Commenting on the row, Ian Austin said:

"Andrew Wickens does really important work in Dudley, making a very important contribution to not just religious life, but to civic, cultural and educational life of the town and the suggestion that he should be banned from council meetings is unacceptable.

"When I look around the wold, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to live in a country where religious leaders are able to speak out. In fact, it has always been the job of religious leaders to say things politicians might not like.

"I’m very surprised that some of our councillors need to be reminded that freedom of speech is one of the most important principles on which our free and democratic country is built. That means people have the right to say things with which other people disagree. People should debate and argue with each other if they disagree, but we have the freedom to say what we like provided it does not incite hatred or violence."

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