Rugby player pulled as Batley and Spen candidate over ‘homophobic’ tweets

A Green supporter's rosette (Johnny Green/PA)
A Green supporter's rosette (Johnny Green/PA)
14:11pm, Mon 07 Jun 2021
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A rugby league international has had his candidacy for the Batley and Spen by-election revoked after it was revealed he made a series of “highly offensive” homophobic tweets as a teenager.

Ross Peltier, 29, a prop forward with Doncaster Dons and a Jamaica international, apologised for the “terrible” language used in the tweets and said “in no way” is he homophobic.

The Green Party said it did “not feel it is right” for Mr Peltier to continue as the party’s candidate in the upcoming by-election.

A spokesman said the party will not be putting another candidate forward.

In a statement released on Twitter at the weekend, Mr Peltier said: “A few tweets have come to light from around 10/9 years ago from when I was 19 years of age.

“The language used is not acceptable or appropriate in any way, shape or form.

“In no way am I homophobic.

“I am sorry if my old tweets have caused harm or upset to anybody.

“But my growth as a person since the time of those tweets has been immeasurable.

“I hope I can be judged on my character now and not of when I was a 19-year-old.”

Mr Peltier released a further statement on Monday morning, which read: “My candidacy has now been revoked and I will not be standing in the Batley and Spen by-election.

“I fully understand and respect the decision made.”

In a later tweet, he said: “I only ever wanted to help improve the area and lives of people in my community.

“If past tweets determine I’m not fit to do that then I have to accept that.”

In response to criticism that his apology was “insincere”, Mr Peltier said he was “truly” sorry and that the words used in his past tweets were “terrible and not acceptable”.

He added: “I have reached out to a number of organisations and want to better my education and give time to work with the LGBTQ+ community.

“I just hope in time I can prove to people I have evolved since the time of the tweets and I am trying to truly make amends for my past language.”

The Green Party said in a statement: “We were very sorry to learn of Ross Peltier’s historic but highly offensive tweets.

“We are clear that people grow and change and should not be limited by youthful mistakes.

“But, as a party that champions the rights of LGBTIQA+ people and their support communities, we do not feel it is right for Ross to be the party’s candidate for the Batley and Spen by-election.”

Andrew Cooper, who leads the Greens on Kirklees Council, said the party would continue to work locally with Mr Peltier, who lives in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, with his partner and young children.

He said: “He’s sought to explain that the person he is now is not the person he was 10 years ago.

“I will continue working with Ross locally in Kirklees.

“He’s somebody who is a committed individual.

“This happened 10 years ago and should not be something that blights the rest of his life.

“It’s time to move on.”

A voter places a ballot paper in a ballot box (Rui Vieira/AP) (PA Archive)

Mr Cooper added that Mr Peltier had reacted “very maturely” to the decision by the party to revoke his candidacy for the by-election.

He said: “He was quite philosophical about it.

“He was quite understanding of the decision and how it was made.”

The July 1 by-election was triggered after Tracy Brabin, who won the seat for Labour in 2019 with a 3,525 majority over the Conservatives, was elected as the mayor of West Yorkshire in May.

The contest is a crucial test for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer after his party’s defeat by the Tories in the Hartlepool by-election last month.

Labour is pinning its hopes on Kim Leadbeater, the sister of Jo Cox, who was Batley and Spen MP, until her murder in 2006.

The Conservatives have chosen Leeds councillor Ryan Stephenson as their candidate.

Former MP and veteran campaigner George Galloway has announced he is running, the Lib Dems have selected TV producer Jo Conchie and the Yorkshire Party, which came third in the recent West Yorkshire mayoral election, will be represented by local engineer Corey Robinson.

Reform UK and independent candidate Paul Halloran, who came third in the constituency in 2019, have both announced they will not stand in the by-election.

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