Friday , 20 September 2019

Wind farm boss slammed for Facebook slurs against gay and disabled people

Matt Braund with Minister Fergus Ewing and Christian Wild, head of ABO Wind
Matt Braund with Minister Fergus Ewing and Christian Wild, head of ABO Wind

A senior executive of an energy company investing millions in the Highlands was forced to apologise for making a series of slurs against LGBTI and disabled people on social media, revealed The Herald.

Matt Braund, manager at ABO Wind UK, referred on Facebook to “homsexual [sic] retarded” sportsmen, urging lesbians to “stop looking like men”, and described singer Cheryl Cole as a “spastic”. In addition he said that the late Boyzone star Stephen Gately, who advocated for LGBTI rights and died at the age of 33, “had it coming”.

Braund’s Facebook page has now been hidden from public view after The Herald contacted the ABO press office at 2.20pm on Friday afternoon.

Braund has a history of rants and slurs on social media; In May 2010, a day after the General Election, he wrote: “Can’t understand why we don’t get rid of the public sector once and for all. Fed up with this country being brought down by too much money being spent on work shy t***s who don’t have the balls to get jobs and lower my tax bill.”

Later that month, he posted: “Reckons Steven [sic] Gately had it coming!”

Two days later, he commented: “Is it me or is Sheryl [sic] Cole just a stupid geordie spastic?”

In June of that year, he wrote: “I suppose i should be shouting my support for the homsexual [sic], retarded “sportsmen” that are just about to represent our country abroad.”

In September last year, five months after Ewing opened ABO Wind UK’s Inverness office, Braund wrote: “Just seen a couple of island lesbians … women of that certain disposition should understand that if you hate men so much, you should stop trying to look like them!”

ABO Wind UK, a subsidiary of a German-based offshore wind company, said last year it was spearheading a £390 million investment programme in the Highlands.

It is also investigating the “potential” for a 25-turbine development in the Kilmorack Community Council area.

The firm’s Inverness office, where Braund is based as the project development manager, was opened last year by Scottish Government Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.

Denise Davis, the former leader of the Druim Ba Say No anti-wind farm campaign, said: “I am disturbed and revolted by the posts and comments Matt Braund made public on his Facebook page.”

Rob McDowall, Chair of LGBT Network, told KaleidoScot: “Bigotry masquerading as an expression of personal opinion is wholly unacceptable in a modern Scotland especially for a ‘professional’ in his position.

“Private thoughts and opinions are one thing but committing them to the Internet via social media exposes ones opinions to widespread review and scrutiny.

“These homophobic and disabilist comments tell you more about the mentality and integrity of the individual than any company bio or LinkedIn profile could.

“I strongly condemn hateful comments of this nature and trust that ABO Wind will take appropriate action to demonstrate their similar abhorrence and condemnation at this individuals behaviour.”

In a statement Braund said yesterday: “I am aware of the comments that have been attributed to me on my Facebook page. These comments are accurate and they were posted by me.

“However, they were not intended for public consumption and they were not posted to purposely offend anyone. I apologise that some of the language used and the comments made are inappropriate.

“To remedy the situation I have now removed my Facebook page. In future I will ensure that I am more aware of the dangers of using social media to share private remarks with close friends. I do not condone the use of offensive comments and on this occasion I have let myself down.”

A spokesman for ABO Wind UK said the company “asked him [Braund] to explain if these comments are accurate and on what basis they were made,” and then “review the situation”. He added: “ABO is a company that values our engagement with the community. We disassociate ourselves from all comments of an offensive nature.”

About Dan Littauer

Dan Littauer is a journalist who specializes in LGBTI current affairs, travel writing, feature writing and investigative journalism. He is a correspondent for LGBTQ Nation, ManAboutWorld, and previously worked for Gay Star News, PinkNews, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Gay Middle East, Lonely Planet as well as contributing occasionally to the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN and The Guardian. He also had an extensive career outside journalism, which included teaching psychoanalysis and social science, and consultancy work for the travel market. When he is not busy writing, he can be spotted rambling around the stunning Scottish landscape, where he lives, spending time at home with his cat.

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