DISTRICT leaders called for an apology from a councillor who they claimed said he would “take out and shoot” anyone who refused to pledge their allegiance to His Majesty King Charles III.

In a row between councillors at a district meeting last Thursday (October 20), it was claimed that Councillor Philip Burford (I, Hartpury and Redmarley) made remarks away from his microphone about those who didn’t share his views on the monarchy, the Local Democracy Reporting Service has reported.

It came during a proposal to plant an oak tree to celebrate the King’s coronation next year.

Councillors were asked to pledge their allegiance to the King but support was not unanimous, with Councillor Chris McFarling (Green, St Briavels) questioning his need to do so.

“I personally don’t wish to pledge allegiance to a king, governor of the Church of England, defender of the faith of a god I don’t believe in.

“I do not wish to be compelled to what can be seen as blind patriotism at the expense of actual patriotism.

“Do I have to pledge allegiance to an unelected monarch? Should my membership of this council not be according to the will of the electorate?”

Councillor Burford said he was a patriot and a Royalist, and would get into a “all kinds of trouble” if he told councillors what he thought should happen to those who refused to pledge their allegience.

“I pledge my allegiance to the King. I believe the vast majority of the people that put me here do the same thing,” he said.

“I also believe the vast majority of the people in the Forest of Dean would do the same thing. I would get into all kinds of trouble if I told you what I thought ought to happen to people that don’t.”

People sitting in the public gallery then shouted to ask if what Cllr Burford had said was a threat.

One woman said: “It’s really disgusting”.

Councillor Mark Topping (G, Lydney West and Aylburton) raised a point of order in relation to Cllr Burford’s comments.

He said: “I know it was meant in jest but the words he actually used, I don’t know what they would come under whether it’s threatening language, or hate speech or inciting violence.

“I don’t know if the microphone picked up his comments of ‘taking them out and shooting them’.

“I know it was meant in jest but he either needs to withdraw those remarks, apologise or it should be noted. We are asking people in public life to lead by example.

“At a particular time when tensions are high and there has been violence towards elected members, I don’t think that sets a good example.”

Chair of the council Julia Gooch (Progressive Independents, Newent and Taynton) asked Cllr Burford if he would apologise for the inappropriate words he had used.

But Cllr Burford replied that he was not sure what he would be apologising for.

“If I’ve caused offence by saying I’m a patriot and a proud Royalist, I apologise,” he said.

“If I’ve caused offence by saying the majority of people who elected me think the same, I’ll apologise.

“I believe that is all that went on record in this council and I would suggest that perhaps something else was heard.

“My personal views are my personal views and that stays with me.”

A cry of “shame” was then heard coming from the public gallery.

Cllr Philip Burford (above right) faced calls to apologise for remarks about those who refused to pledge allegience to the new King.