Senior Tory councillor is suspended after telling women at awards ceremony to ‘stand up so I can look at you,’ because he’d missed live events
- Leigh Higgins is said to have told women to stand up so could praise their attire
- Debbie Longley, who was in the audience, made the claim and called him ‘sexist’ and chauvinistic’
- The comments were allegedly made during an awards event on Friday evening
- The deputy leader of the council has been suspended by the Conservative party while the allegations are investigated
A Conservative councillor has been suspended from the party and forced to step down as deputy leader of the council after allegedly telling an audience he wanted women to stand up so he could look at them.
Councillor Leigh Higgins, the deputy leader of Melton Borough Council, is said to have made the comments in the closing moments of the Best of Melton Awards event on Friday evening.
Councillor Higgins, who stood as the Conservative candidate for Chesterfield in the 2019 General Election, was talking about the effects of the pandemic and how he had missed events when he asked the women in the room to stand up so he could see and praise them on their attire.
Debbie Longley, who attended the glamorous event to pick up an award on behalf of a friend, called councillor Higgins – who, according to his LinkedIn profile, is also director of the telecommunications company Open Solutions – a ‘sexist, chauvinistic tool’.
Councillor Leigh Higgins has been suspended by the Conservative party after he allegedly told an audience he wanted the women to stand up so he could take a look at them
In a Facebook post after the event, she said: ‘Lovely evening at Best of Melton Awards. However, if you want confirmation that some people still live in the Dark Ages; COUNCILLOR Leigh Higgins just asked all the ladies to stand up so we could be seen as it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to ‘enjoy’ those kinds of sights! (Needless to say I didn’t stand up).
‘It’s a business and community event you absolute sexist, chauvinistic tool. Plus, I am not there to be ogled by anyone!
‘He also told us how he nearly lost his multi million pound business and had to go on to JSA, and that some other millionaires had to have food parcels. My heart bleeds.’
The conservative party has suspended councillor Higgins for 21 days pending an investigation, Melton Borough Council confirmed, meaning he cannot serve his deputy leadership role or as the portfolio holder for growth and prosperity on the council.
Debbie said approximately 20 to 30 women stood up but the few others around her did not.
‘I don’t think the ones who stood up were quite sure what they were being asked to do,’ she told Leicestershire Live.
‘I think they expected all the men to be asked to stand up next or something.’
Debbie Longley, who attended the awards event where councillor Higgins (pictured) reportedly make his comment, called him a ‘sexist, chauvinistic tool’
Debbie said she made an official complaint to the leader of the council following the event, which was held at Brooskby Hall, Melton, on Friday evening.
Councillor Higgins now states on his website that he is an independent member of the council.
MailOnline has approached him for comment.
A spokeswoman for Melton Borough Council said: ‘The council has been notified by the leader of the Conservative group that Councillor Leigh Higgins has been suspended from the group for 21 days pending an investigation following comments made at the Best of Melton Awards.
‘During this period, the leader has confirmed that he will assume responsibility for the growth and prosperity portfolio and Councillor Malise Graham will take up the position of acting deputy leader.
‘The council is unable to comment on any investigations currently underway.’
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