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'Anti-Islam' Tory candidate quits
A Tory council candidate has resigned from the party after making anti-Islamic and homophobic comments.
David Bishop quit the party and apologised unreservedly after posting comments on Twitter including "It's good to be anti-Islam".
Mr Bishop, who was standing as the Tory candidate in Brentwood South in Essex, urged no-one to vote for him on May 22.
He said: "I unreservedly apologise for publishing inappropriate tweets and re-tweets and I am sorry for the real offence caused.
"I recognise that someone standing for public office should show leadership and seek to unite communities, not divide them. I hope the residents of Brentwood South can forgive my lack of judgement in time.
"I have let myself and my party down and, in order to avoid any further embarrassment, I have taken the decision to resign from the Conservative Party with immediate effect. I will not be asking anyone to vote for me on May 22.
"I wish the Conservative Party all the best for the future."
The Brentwood Gazette reported that, t wo days after being named the Tory candidate, the local DJ reposted a tweet made from another account which cites the arrest of four Muslim men over the rape of a 14-year-old girl before adding "'#Islam 'the religion of peace' & rape".
Other posts made by Mr Bishop include "How CAN a gay guy keep a straight face?" and "A lesbian kiss on @bbceastenders before the watershed... okay BBC diversity soldiers we get it, now stop trying so hard #pathetic."
The association chairman in Brentwood and Ongar, where Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is the MP, said he had accepted the resignation and it was the "right decision".
John Kerslake said: "The Conservative Party is all-inclusive and promotes unity. As such, the matter has been dealt with swiftly and conclusively in the best interest of Brentwood and the party."
Meanwhile, the Conservatives distanced themselves from views expressed on Twitter by Stephen Lees, who claims to have been a long-standing activist in the Croydon area of south London.
Mr Lees wrote on Twitter: "Every single Muslim should be expelled from this country - not deported - expelled, and every mosque demolished."
But a Conservative Party spokesman said: " Stephen Lees is not a member of the Conservative Party according to local records checked today. The local association has also confirmed that he is not a party activist, and has no formal ties to the Conservative Party."