POLICE will take no further action over an MP's constituency leaflet on gypsy sites, after its contents were branded "discriminatory" and "racist" by campaigners.
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden came to the defence of Conservative Monmouth MP and Welsh Secretary David Davies last week over the publication, which asked constituents: "Would you like to see a traveller site next to your house? Y/N."
An advocate group for the traveller community, reportedly funded to the tune of more than £5m by the Labour-led Welsh Government, reported the leaflet – headed “Gypsy and traveller site coming to your area soon" – saying it was "unacceptable".
But Gwent Police now say they will be taking no further action after examining its contents and consulting the CPS and traveller community.
In a statement, Ch Supt Carl Williams said: “We launched a review into the contents of a leaflet published and distributed in Monmouthshire regarding proposals for a development of a gypsy and traveller site.
“Officers have spoken to several people from the gypsy and traveller and settled communities before seeking advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on whether the leaflet’s contents constituted any offences.
“Any allegation of discrimination is taken extremely seriously and following this review, we will not be taking any further action.”
Mr Davies sent the leaflet to constituents amid protests by residents over new sites proposed by the county council in the Monmouth, Mitchel Troy and Magor areas, with the first two subsequently removed from a shortlist as 'unsuitable'.
And following the police review, he said: "A lack of wide public consultation by a Labour council to an important issue, and seeking views from my constituents, is not a crime. I’m pleased that Gwent Police agree.
“I make no apologies for raising the issue of the location on traveller sites across Monmouthshire.”
Mr Davies was backed last week by the Deputy PM, who told Sky News his colleague was simply "standing up for his constituents".
Asked if he thought the language on the leaflet was racist, Mr Dowden said: "No, and I think what David TC Davies was doing was highlighting the failure of the local Labour council to carry out a proper consultation on this.
"That is entirely what people would expect their local members of Parliament to do.
"He is standing up for his constituents, making their case for them and I totally support his right to do that."
Travelling Ahead, a group which supports gypsy, Roma and traveller communities in Wales, said last week they had complained to the police, the Conservative party, and the Equality Commission, claiming the leaflet was a "clear breach of the Equality Act, dog whistle actions intended to create a hostile environment for gypsies and travellers".
Its project manager, Trudy Aspinwall, branded it a "direct discriminatory, racist leaflet", and said: "Our concern when we saw it was that there was a deliberate targeting of gypsies and travellers in terms of rousing up concerns about sites that gypsies and travellers have been waiting for for some time in Monmouthshire."
She labelled it a "disproportionate and hostile response targeted at the race and ethnicity" of travellers, which would "make them feel like they are not wanted anywhere".
But Mr Davies responded by saying: "The sites are a legitimate matter for public debate and scrutiny (and it is)... entirely valid to criticise a lack of wide public consultation by a council.
"I have been contacted by many upset residents at the shortness of the consultation and the proposed locations for the sites.
"I have also been told that many from the gypsy and traveller community are also upset at the proposed locations for the sites. This is not a criticism of the gypsy and traveller community."
Monmouthshire Council has now said: “A decision was due to be taken by our cabinet on 26 July to commence consultation on potential sites for Gypsy and traveller accommodation.
"However, in response to concerns raised, that consultation has been deferred to allow more time for consideration of options for potential sites.
"No sites have been confirmed for consultation at this stage.
“We have a duty to provide a small number of pitches for local people as part of our commitment to providing affordable housing in Monmouthshire.
"We are committed to providing small sites where members of the Gypsy and traveller community can settle, work, and send their children to school.”