Hosts of controversial Liverpool arms fair facing another dispute and urged to diversify board

Cllr Harry Doyle wants the ACC Group board to be “representative of the communities” it serves.

<p>Jeremy Corbyn addresses some of the protesters in Liverpool ahead of the arms fair. Image: @JeremyCorbyn/twitter</p>

Jeremy Corbyn addresses some of the protesters in Liverpool ahead of the arms fair. Image: @JeremyCorbyn/twitter

The hosts of October’s controversial arms fair in Liverpool could be heading for another dispute.

ACC Liverpool Group, whose sole shareholder is Liverpool City Council, hosts a range of events in the city and was the scene of large-scale protests last month following the decision to go ahead with an electronic arms fair.

Now, a Knotty Ash councillor has called for an apology regarding comments and statements made regarding the LGBQT+ community ahead of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association UK Tour that will be going ahead next year with a date at the ACC.

Councillor Harry Doyle, who describes himself as an LGBQT+ Christian, said he considered taking his own life at the age of 15 due to conflicts around his faith and sexuality, has released a statement expressing his disappointment that the event will be going ahead.

Cllr Harry Doyle, cabinet lead for culture. Image: Jennifer Bruce/LCC

He has called on Billy Graham’s son Franklin, a American evangelist, to apologise for “historical comments and statements made regarding the LGBQT+ community”.

Cllr Doyle, a cabinet member for culture and visitor economy, said Liverpool’s LGBTQ+ community had seen a rise in hate crime over the past six months.

He has also revealed he is working with Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson to try and diversify the board of the ACC Group Liverpool.

A statement released by the councillor on Twitter said: “I, along with Mayor Joanne, have called on ACC Liverpool to look at the diversity of its board.

“We know that better, more informed decisions are made when decision makers are representative of the communities they serve.

“We are due to agree our Ethical Charter which we hope will go some way to ensuring our city remains a beacon of hope for all.

“We are also working with the LGBTQ+ community and faith leaders in the city to arrange an alternative event that will promote peace and love, challenging the historical rhetoric against our community.”

An ACC Liverpool Group spokesperson said: “We are committed to further engagement with a wide range of important and valued community groups and representatives and are setting up a Community Advisory Group to ensure we have a formalised process in which to engage with a diverse and inclusive range of stakeholders and groups across our local community.

“This includes a commitment to continually review our board membership to ensure decisions are representative of the communities we serve.”

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association UK have been contacted for a comment.