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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Race claim against petition man
CRE logo
The action is being taken under the Race Relations Act
A man says he is "gobsmacked" he faces action under race relations laws for starting a petition opposing a travellers' site in Swansea.

Carl Lewis collected 953 signatures for the petition while standing as a candidate in a council by-election.

The Commission for Race Equality (CRE) in Wales said it had instructed lawyers to start proceedings against him.

Businessman Mr Lewis denied being prejudiced against travellers and said it was "very heavy-handed and onerous".

The petition was handed in to Swansea Council earlier this month.

The CRE claims during the election campaign, in which Mr Lewis stood as an Independent, he circulated leaflets and petitions calling for the eviction of two families of travellers whose caravans were on an overspill car park by the city's Liberty Stadium.

Were this to have been a petition calling on the council to reject housing applications for any other ethnic minority groups, there would have been public uproar
Chris Myant, CRE in Wales

The organisation's director Chris Myant said they were taking action under section 31 of the Race Relations Act which "made it unlawful to bring pressure on someone to act in a discriminatory way".

He said the act existed to "enable solutions to be found through debate" in which public expressions of prejudice play no part.

"Were this to have been a petition calling on the council to reject housing applications for any other ethnic minority groups, there would have been public uproar."

But Mr Lewis, who runs a recruiting business from his home in Llansamlet, denied he was racist or prejudiced against travellers.

"I'm gobsmacked," he said.

"This petition wasn't against travellers, it was against a second official traveller site in the area."

He accused the CRE of "trying to blacken" his character.

"This is very heavy-handed and onerous. This says a lot about their mentality," he added.


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