Tory spokesman Cairns resigns after Italian slur

Tory Welsh assembly member Alun Cairns has resigned
Tory Welsh assembly member Alun Cairns has resigned

A Conservative member of the Welsh assembly has been forced to resign over derogatory comments he made about Italians earlier this week.

Alun Cairns, who is the Tory education spokesman and South Wales West AM, referred to Italians as "greasy wops" on BBC Radio Cymru's weekly political discussion show Dau o'r Bae (Two From The Bay).

He immediately apologised for the remarks on air but has since recognised the irreparable damage caused by his outburst and resigned his post.

Mr Cairns, who was also chair of the Welsh assembly's finance committee, made the remark as a seemingly off-the-cuff aside while the panel were discussing who they would like to win the Euro 2008 football tournament.

One contributor commented on a number of the teams in the competition, saying she had noted down her first impressions.

She said she had written "boring" next to Sweden, "nice flag" next to Portugal and "nice food" next to Italy - to which Mr Cairns replied: "I've written greasy wops."

However, in a statement Mr Cairns described his comment as "inappropriate", adding: "I very much regret the remarks and wish to apologise once again for the offence they may have caused.

"I have the utmost respect for Italy and Italian people but accept that my comments, no matter how inadvertent, were unacceptable.

"I support all efforts to tackle xenophobia and racism and will continue to promote equality and tolerance."

Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne, who accepted Mr Cairns' resignation, described the comments as "completely out of character" but agreed they were "unacceptable".

"Alun is a long-serving, hard-working and well-respected politician but knows his comments were inappropriate and regrettable," Mr Bourne added.


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.