According to Inside Housing Midland Heart, a Birmingham-based social landlord, has suspended Lord Austin from his duties following a controversial social media post. The suspension was unanimously decided by the board due to the impact on the organisation’s reputation and the upset caused, particularly among colleagues. A meeting has been scheduled in 14 days to discuss Lord Austin’s potential removal from the board, adhering to association rules.

The incident stemmed from a now-deleted post on X (formerly Twitter), in which Lord Austin urged people to check for potential connections to a “death cult of Islamist murderers and rapists” in their vicinity before going to bed. The post triggered significant criticism, with housing activist Kwajo Tweneboa describing it as “vile,” and former Chartered Institute of Housing president Lara Oyedele calling for Lord Austin’s resignation.

This is not the first time that Lord Austin has revealed his partisan and defamatory behaviour.

Lord Austin, a former housing minister, later clarified that the comments referred to the terrorist group Hamas, linking them to an attack that initiated the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. Despite this clarification, complaints continued, prompting Lord Austin to delete the post and express that it was not his intention to offend anyone. He emphasised that the majority of Muslims condemn racism and terrorism.

Initially, Midland Heart responded by stating that Lord Austin had clarified the points made in the tweet and deleted the post. However, the organisation took further action, with CEO Glenn Harris informing staff in an email that Lord Austin had been suspended, and a meeting to discuss his future would take place in 14 days.

Harris acknowledged the impact on the organisation’s reputation and the distress caused to colleagues, emphasising that the board unanimously believed suspension was the necessary course of action. Llewellyn Graham, Midland Heart’s senior independent director, and CEO of Nehemiah Housing, will temporarily assume the role of chair during this period.

Harris also conveyed his belief that Lord Austin did not intend to cause offense, but emphasised the importance of responsible communication, especially on sensitive issues. The letter aimed to apologise to colleagues who were offended, reiterating that Lord Austin’s post was in his personal capacity and not endorsed by Midland Heart or its board.

In conclusion, the suspension of Lord Austin reflects Midland Heart’s commitment to addressing the impact on its reputation and the concerns raised by colleagues following the controversial social media post. The organisation’s response underscores the importance of responsible communication and accountability, even in personal capacities, for individuals in prominent positions within such organizations.

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