An investigation into four posts shared by Fens and Rossmere councillor Tony Richardson on his Facebook page were found to be a significant breach of Hartlepool Borough Council’s code of conduct and brought the reputation of the authority into disrepute.

In December, Coun Richardson shared a post likening an immigrant trying to claim benefits to a dog.

Former Brexit Party Councillor Tony Richardson. Picture by FRANK REID

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Three other offensive posts making reference to Muslims, Isis and an implication to the Rotherham child sex abuse rings were also considered by the investigation.

Full Council, which meets on February 20, is being urged to ask Coun Richardson to consider resigning.

Community group Hartlepool Against Racism is also calling for him to quit.

But a defiant Coun Richardson told the Mail: “I was elected by the people of this town, not by the council and so I won’t be resigning.”

Members of Hartlepool Against Racism who are calling for Councillor Tony Richardson to resign.

The standards hearing’s independent person called the post about the dog “vile and offensive” and “hate speech in any one’s opinion”.

Coun Richardson accepted breaching the code, but claimed to have had no insight or understanding into their meaning.

Investigating officer and council Assistant Chief Solicitor Neil Wilson said: “It is of significant concern that the Councillor has shared the posts whilst claiming to have no insight into the meaning of the said posts.

“Councillor Richardson’s posts can be viewed by many other users and inappropriate content compromises his position as a councillor and the reputation of the council as a whole.”

The Audit and Governance Committee has imposed a number of sanctions but members expressed their surprise he had not resigned and felt the sanctions were not sufficient.

They include a recommendation for Coun Richardson take part in diversity and social media training, that he is removed from two committees he sits on and that he is barred from sitting on any council committee from now on.

The committee’s report said: “Councillor Tony Richardson had demonstrated a clear prejudice and bias towards a proportion of the community and this raises questions surrounding his objectivity when making decisions.”

Full Council is also being urged to make a formal statement saying Coun Richardson’s actions are not tolerated or represent the authority.

Coun Richardson resigned from the Brexit Party and the Coalition Group on February 4.

He told the audit committee he was extremely sorry for any offence he had caused and maintained he was not racist.

In mitigation, he said he was very illiterate with computers and had not realised the consequences.



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