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Norwich Green Party councillor Lesley Grahame compares Manchester terror attack to air pollution deaths

PUBLISHED: 15:10 25 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:02 26 May 2017

Councillor Lesley Grahame giving the speech which she has now apologised for. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Councillor Lesley Grahame giving the speech which she has now apologised for. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A Green Party councillor has apologised after she gave a speech at a vigil for the Manchester bombing victims which compared the atrocity to air pollution deaths.

Lesley Grahame spoke on the steps of City Hall during the sombre event to mark the deaths of 22 people when Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb at Manchester Arena.

Thorpe Hamlet councillor Ms Grahame, who stood for election in Norwich South in 2015, likened the bombing to other mass deaths including drone strikes and migrants drowning at sea.

At the event, which was held during a period when election campaigning was supposed to be suspended, she said: “The Manchester tragedy could have happened anywhere – it is a hate crime as outrageous as the accidental bombing of a wedding party because a drone operator got it wrong, as the 40,000 people who die every year in the UK because of air pollution or the hundreds of people drowning trying to escape a conflict that makes the risk of crossing the Mediterranean a better option than staying in a conflict zone caused at least in part by climate-related hunger.

“It is no disrespect to Manchester’s grieving families to put their tragedy into context.”

But now Ms Grahame has apologised and admitted, in hindsight, the speech was badly timed: “I would like to apologise if I have caused any offence. The bombing was a heinous crime and by mentioning the other things I am grieving for all people who die unnecessarily. I can see now that what I said was clumsy but it was meant with only love for the families.”

It is not the first time Ms Grahame has found herself in hot water – in 2008 she was found guilty of trespassing and criminal damage when she cut through a fence and chained herself to a munitions compound at RAF Lakenheath.

Green Party City Hall group leader Martin Schmierer said: “I am sure that Lesley meant no offence by what she said. Obviously our deepest sympathies go out to the people of Manchester and especially to those families affected by this tragedy.”

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