A Labour councillor has been suspended from the party pending an investigation over alleged racist Facebook posts.
David Walls, who represents the Newsham ward on Blyth Town Council, is facing a probe following a series of posts featuring derogatory and racially-charged language.
However, Coun Walls, who was elected in May last year, has said that he is not a racist, believes the issue is a storm in a teacup and is a case of the PC brigade going over the top.
Confirming the suspension, a spokesman for the Labour Party said: “Labour takes all complaints of racism and anti-Semitism extremely seriously, which are fully investigated and appropriate disciplinary action taken in line with our rules and procedures.
“Racism and anti-Semitism has absolutely no place in the Party, and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it, in all its forms.”
In one post on Coun Walls’ personal Facebook page, he appears to use racist language in relation to Italians and Jews when discussing the BBC series Peaky Blinders.
He also appears to say that ‘Greece, asylum seekers and boat people’ are not the UK’s problem following the EU referendum and labels Greece as ‘Donkey Island’.
Responding to the investigation, Coun Walls said: “It will come out how it comes out and I am not worried about what has been alleged.”
He said that the posts were on his personal, private Facebook page, and not on his councillor page, and added: “This is a storm in a tea cup. I am not racist and I am not anti-Semitic.
“I do think Greece is a donkey island and the post about Peaky Blinders was a quote taken from the actor Tom Hardy during the show on the BBC. I was praising Tom Hardy, who did such a wonderful job and gave a fine portrayal of the character that he played.
“I am not a bad person – I am a down-to-earth working-class lad.
“I don’t blame the party for investigating and taking an interest but it will come out as a bunch of PC brigade nonsense.”
At a recent meeting, Blyth Valley Labour Party passed a motion calling for Coun Walls to be investigated and suspended ‘with immediate effect’ while the probe was on-going.
The group stated that it did not believe that Coun Walls had acted within the rules of the Party and had brought the Party into disrepute.
Chairman of the Blyth branch, John Regan, said: “I am pleased that the Labour Party has agreed with Blyth Valley Labour Party that he should be suspended pending an investigation.
“We hope that the investigation is concluded as quickly as possible. I can’t really comment until the investigation is completed, but the suspension is a step in the right direction.”
The Labour Party is engulfed in a protracted scandal over anti-Semitic elements within the party, prompting accusations from some that leader Jeremy Corbyn is failing to tackle the issue.
Mr Corbyn has acknowledged that the party had been ‘too slow’ in dealing with cases of anti-Semitism and apologised for the ‘hurt’ that has been caused.