Councillor behind Corbyn gallows tweet ordered to publicly apologise

A suspended Conservative councillor who tweeted that Corbyn “should be swinging from the gallows like Saddam Hussein” has been told to make a full public apology.

An independent investigation into two complaints over Councillor Robert Patterson’s Twitter activity has found his tweets were issued while acting in an official capacity as a member of West Lindsey District Council.

It says the ward member for Scampton breached the council’s Members’ Code of Conduct principles of accountability and leadership, as well as general obligations relating to respect, bullying and harassment.

It is understood Councillor Patterson will make a public statement at a Full Council meeting on Monday (November 4) at 7pm.

He has already been suspended from the local Conservative party until November 8.

The report reveals two separate complaints about Councillor Patterson’s Tweets were received by the authority accusing the member of being offensive and inciting to violence.

The alleged tweets said:

  • “The only minority to be cleansed are Corbyns (sic) terrorist sympathiseing (sic) anti semitic (sic) cult. They are a dirty stain on this country.” (sent July 9)
  • “It’s Corbyn who shouldn’t be in Parliament. The traitor should be swinging from the gallows like Saddam Hussein. He’s betrayed his country by his support for terrorists and our enemies.” (sent July 24)

The tweets were later deleted.

West Lindsey District Councillor Roger Patterson.

The complainants called the statements “hate-filled”, with one suggesting the line about terrorist support could “qualify as libellous”.

When interviewed, one complainant said: “I am absolutely disgusted with the complete lack of respect or regard shown by Councillor Patterson towards Jeremy Corbyn and those who support him.

“As my ward councillor I expect a more respectful approach to human beings and those in political opposition.”

When interviewed, Councillor Patterson said in one instance he had “lost his temper” over an “anti-Semitic tweet about cleansing Israel of Zionists” which he said was posted by a Labour Party member.

In another he said he had responded to a message referring to Auschwitz and Jeremy Hunt, telling the officer it was an “off-the-cuff remark… designed to annoy than incite”.

The report says he “denied he had written that Jeremy Corbyn should be hanged and he was definitely not advocating murder or violence against anyone.”

He appreciated, however, that others could view his comments differently.

He said his comments were not libellous – adding that while serving in the defence forces in Northern Ireland he “had witnessed Mr Corbyn speak on a platform with IRA members and… that Jeremy Corbyn has also openly expressed support for HAMAS.”

Councillor Patterson tweeted Corbyn “should be hanging from the gallows”. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

He told the officer he had made a mistake and had not meant to threaten or incite anyone, but took responsibility for his actions.

Concluding his report, Investigating Officer James O’Shaughnessy said: “I have determined that the language used by Councillor Patterson in both social media postings was not respectful; was inflammatory in nature and could be regarded as incitement to violence. Such language is not expected of someone holding a position of leadership.

“[…] it is evident that differing political opinions and doctrines were being vehemently expressed.

“However, Councillor  Patterson failed to respect the right for those views to be held and resorted to the type of language referred to above.”

Councillor Patterson has been told to:

  • Makes a statement at the next meeting of Full Council that he attends
  • Steps down as a member of West Lindsey District Council’s Standards Sub-Committee
  • Undertake social media training

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