Mosque lodges complaint against Walsall Council leader over alleged conduct at Muslim funerals

Walsall Council boss Mike Bird is being investigated by the authority after members of a town mosque alleged he had verbally abused worshippers and mourners at funerals.

Councillor Mike Bird
Councillor Mike Bird

Walsall Jamia Masjid Ghausia, in Birchills, lodged a formal complaint to the authority over the leader’s alleged “inappropriate conduct” on occasions during the first Covid-19 lockdown.

Councillor Bird confirmed an inquiry is being carried out by the council’s monitoring officer, Tony Cox, and strongly refuted the allegations made against him.

He said he had acted in the best interests of the whole Walsall community throughout the pandemic.

More Covid-19 coverage:

Committee members of the mosque said Councillor Bird had "hurled abuse" towards worshippers and made unannounced visits to funerals making “false allegations”.

The mosque committee said they were being supported by the national Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) organisation with their complaint.

Dr Salim Khan said: “Since April 2020, Mike Bird has made several unannounced visits to the Mosque and funerals conducted at Streetly Cemetery where he hurled abuse at worshippers and mourners, according to several eyewitness reports.

“Mike Bird has continuously made several false allegations against the Mosque for their delivery of funerals, with no evidence to support his unfounded accusations.

“The Mosque have ensured that they facilitated funeral in accordance with Walsall Council’s Covid-19 guidelines their procedures have been consulted with Public Health and are acknowledged by Christen Walker, Walsall Council’s principal bereavement services officer.

“Due to Mike Bird’s unacceptable conduct, which appears to be in clear breach of Walsall Council’s code of conduct, a formal complaint against him has been submitted.”

Dr Khan called upon the authority to suspend Councillor Bird from his public duty while it is investigated.

Councillor Bird said earlier this year, he had received a call from a member of the public that there were more than 200 people at a funeral at the mosque and when he turned up to speak to leaders, he said he was accused of being racist and met with abuse.

Flouting

At a funeral at Streetly Crematorium, Councillor Bird attended amid claims there were 150 mourners during lockdown when strict limits were in place.

He added that the council had dealt with a number of unlawful large gatherings during lockdown, including funerals of non-Muslim people.

Councillor Bird said: “People who are flouting the rules are putting lives at risk. We are in the middle of a pandemic and they are not getting it.

“They’re trying to allege that I’m Islamophobic and that I’m racist, because they’re breaking the law and they’re being found out.

“I’ve got a lot of friends in the Muslim community and I pride myself of being the only white person, as far as I’m aware, that’s ever given a eulogy in a mosque to a dear friend.

“I didn’t abuse mourners or worshippers. The monitoring officer will do his investigation and I’m absolutely 100 per cent confident that what I’ve done is right and it was in the interests of the wider community of Walsall.”

Councillor Bird also confirmed Walsall Council has launched an inquiry into reports that around 200 mourners attended a funeral at Streetly Crematorium on November 5.

A spokeswoman for Walsall Council said: “The council does not comment on individual standards complaints.

“In relation to standards complaints generally there is no power in law to suspend any elected member who may be the subject of a complaint.”

A West Midlands Police spokeswoman also said complaints against Councillor Bird had been received and they were investigating.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News