London council leader forced to apologise over branding teenage campaigner an ‘appalling little child’ in Twitter rant

A London council leader has been forced to apologise for calling a teenage campaigner “vile” and an “appalling little child” in a Twitter rant.

Kevin Davis, the leader of Kingston Council, faced a furious backlash for his response to a tweet from the young community activist about a possible conflict of interests.

Sixth-former James Giles, 17, said he asked Mr Davis at a council meeting last week if it was appropriate that his son worked at a development firm with ties to the local authority. 

Responding to a tweet from the teenager, an outraged Mr Davis wrote: “What an appalling little child you are. Who the hell do you think you are dragging my family into your vile conspiracy stories?

“I would hope that when you grow up you might realise how disgusting this is, sadly I doubt it.”

Kevin Davis: The council leader branded the teenage activist an ‘appalling little child’ in an angry twitter post (Twitter)

A petition calling for Mr Davis to resign over the “insulting” response to the teenager received more than 1,000 signatures, with many taking to Twitter to vent their outrage.

A women who claimed to be Mr Giles’s aunt commented on the petition, saying: “This man [Mr Davis] is a bully who uses threatening language towards minors. How can he represent communities when he has such negative views on his local people.”

Mr Davis has since said sorry, writing in a blog post: “I should not have risen to this attack. For that I apologise”. But he said he reacted “in a way that any father would”.

In a statement, the council leader wrote: “I am a father first and politician second. This past weekend my son was used as a political tool to attack me on social media and I reacted in a way that any father would, I defended my son’s right to privacy. 

“In doing that I let my passion get the better of me and I attacked the author.”

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But he added: “What I need to acknowledge is that James is also someone’s son, and I should not have risen to this attack. For that I apologise.”

Responding to claims his son’s job poses a conflict of interests to Mr Davis’ role within Kingston Council, he wrote: “There is never a conflict of interest that prevents a councillor being a councillor. 

“Were I ever to sit on a committee which was taking a decision about any matter pertaining to a company for which a relative of mine worked I would, of course, declare that interest. 

“If it was a financial interest or there was the appearance of bias, I would withdraw from the meeting. If there was no financial interest and no appearance of bias, I could stay and vote.”

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