A West Lindsey District Councillor, who has been suspended from the Conservative Party pending investigation after tweeting that Jeremy Corbyn “should swing from the gallows”, says he “deeply regrets” his “stupid, off the cuff remark”.
Scampton ward councillor Roger Patterson, who deleted the original tweet and later apologised, spoke to Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines.
He said: “I’m not going to defend myself because it was quite a stupid thing to say. It wasn’t in anyway inciting anybody to do anything, it was a stupid remark when I was tired and late at night.”
He said that, as a councillor, he often saw abusive tweets, including those aimed at his own party, as well as other discrimination on the social media platform, and that he often reported incidents, including antisemitism, himself.
“All these sort of things get on top of you. The trigger was that Jeremy Hunt was mentioned in a tweet about something about Aushwitz and I tweeted back “prove it”,” he said.
“It was an off-the-cuff remark, something I deeply regretted saying afterwards. The damage is done though, it’s there.
“I should know better, but I’m a human being, we make mistakes and all say stupid things that we regret.”
He said that since the story broke, previous stories have also resurfaced of his links to an alleged Islamophobic Facebook group.
“I’m getting accused of being homophobic and Islamophobic but I’m not.
“I’m quite a vocal critic of antisemitism on Twitter. Some of the things I see is vile and I report it. I have a go back about it.
“Perhaps I shouldn’t but I can’t help it because it’s wrong.”
His place of employment is also getting calls telling them to sack him, he said.
He said he had spoken to West Lindsey Council leader Giles McNeill who “obviously wasn’t very happy.”
“It’s caused offence to people and embarrassed my party and colleagues,” he said, but reiterated that he never meant it.
“It’s like when you’re a child and you tell your parents you hate them. It was off the cuff, it was deplorable, it’s out there.”
He said he understood how it was worse for an elected member to tweet similar statements “to an extent”, adding: “As a person, I’m a human being as well and we all have our short comings as human beings. We all do some things sometimes or say things that we don’t mean to say.
“It’s not really about me being a public official, it’s worse because I’m an elected official, it’s just I’m also human being and I said something stupid that I deeply regret and didn’t mean.
He said he had learnt his lesson, and said he needed to be more careful in the future.
“I had a moment where I wasn’t thinking clearly and said something stupid.
“Hopefully people will understand I did something stupid and I’m answering for it.
“I hope they will eventually forgive me.”
The Gainsborough Conservative website described Councillor Patterson as a “champion of democracy”.
He currently sits on West Lindsey councils planning committee and was first elected to the authority in 2011.
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