Sacked Council Employee Speaks Out

Former H&F housing boss gives his side of the story

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A former housing boss who was sacked by Hammersmith and Fulham Council after pictures of him dressed as a Nazi appeared in a national newspaper, has given his side of the story.

Gareth Mead was branded a ‘secret Nazi’ by the Sunday Mirror, after the paper uncovered and published photos of the former council employee dressed in a Nazi uniform and posing in front of a swastika.

In an in-depth interview, Mead told Inside Housing Magazine that the pictures had been taken eight years earlier, at a time when he used to attend Nazi-themed parties and that he had ended his involvement in the sexual-fetish scene six years ago.

But the day after the pictures appeared in the Mirror last March, Mead was suspended from his £80,000 a year post. He was then sacked after having worked for Hammersmith and Fulham Council for 17 years.

“I want to categorically tell you: I’m not a racist, never have been a racist. I have never been a Nazi…There’s a big difference between fantasy role-playing and a silly sex game, and real life,” he told Inside Housing.

The Mirror also reported that Mead had sent racist and anti-Semitic text messages.

“I was sending text messages of that ilk, of that tone. But I don’t remember those particular text messages,” he told Inside Housing. “In that role-playing situation, I was pretending to be an SS officer. You want to be convincing in that role when you’re playing it and so there was a strange upping the ante of the machismo that’s going on in that exchange - who can be more violent, nasty and disgusting. I would never ever want any of that content ever to come to pass in reality. Never,” he continued.

Mead told the magazine he didn't know how the pictures and text messages had come to light but said he suspected it was an attempt to damage Hammersmith and Fulham Council just weeks before local elections.

He said he took full responsibility for what had happened and that he wanted to apologise to his former colleagues: “Sorry for the profound hurt and upset I’ve caused through the reporting of the comments attributed to me in the press. Of the whole incident, it’s that which has upset me most,” he told the magazine.

On the discussion forum beneath the article, several people have expressed their support for the former Hammersmith & Fulham employee. One poster, who calls himself 'Freddie' writes:
“Gareth Mead is a truly lovely, inspiring man, who has always been brave and deeply honest. A lot of people owe him a great deal, including people living with HIV/AIDS, women feeling domestic violence and disabled people. He made a real difference. I wish him all the very best in the future.”

April 24, 2010