A West Lindsey councillor who tweeted that Jeremy Corbyn should be “should be swinging from the gallows like Saddam Hussein” has said he is “deeply sorry” and “cannot justify” his comments.
Councillor Roger Patterson was ordered to make a full public apology following an independent investigation into complaints over his Twitter activity.
The investigation found that Councillor Patterson breached the council’s Members’ Code of Conduct principles of accountability and leadership, as well as general obligations relating to respect, bullying and harassment.
In his statement to a West Lindsey District Council full council meeting, Councillor Patterson said he caused embarrassment to his colleagues with his tweets but added that he “did not incite violence”.
“I did not incite violence against anyone,” he said. “However I can see that some people may have thought that I did.
“In doing so, I offended other people and caused great embarrassment to the council and the Conservative group.
“I am deeply sorry for any offence and embarrassment that I caused with my stupid comments.”
Councillor Patterson was found to have published the tweets about the Labour leader while acting in an official capacity as a member of West Lindsey District Council.
The report revealed 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.
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.”
Councillor Patterson has already been suspended from the local Conservative party until November 8.
Following the independent investigation, he has also been told to step down as a member of the council’s standards sub-committee and undertake social media training.
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.”
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