Tories reinstate candidates suspended for offensive social media posts
An ex-mayor who was suspended from the Conservatives for sharing a racist joke has been reinstated – allowing the party to seize control of a local council.
Rosemary Carroll was welcomed back into the party after having to stand down for three months over the Facebook post which compared an Asian person to a dog.
It meant the Tories could win control of Pendle Council in Lancashire by just one seat.
Meanwhile, a newly elected Tory candidate in Sunderland, who had been suspended for calling Diane Abbott a “filthy, bulbous pig”, was also reinstated.
Labour leader in Pendle, Mohammed Iqbal, said the reinstatement of Ms Carroll was "a damning indictment of the Conservatives".
"She was welcomed back with open arms," he added. "They should have done the decent thing and distanced themselves from her. I'm appalled. The suspension was a gimmick."
But Tory leader Paul White insisted Ms Carroll – who sat as an independent councillor after her three-month suspension expired last year - had “learned from her mistake”.
He added: "We can't be in this position in the world where people can't make mistakes. "She has apologised and done diversity training, and I am confident she has learned from her mistake."
He said Ms Carroll had been readmitted to the party “in the last few days” – allowing the party to hit the needed 25 seats to control the local authority. In Sunderland, Antony Mullen was reinstated by the Tories “with immediate effect” as he was elected in the area he once called a “post apocalyptic sh*thole”.
Mr Mullen apologised for the comments but said he had been appalled and shocked at the attempts to brand me as a racist".
He added: "I wish to state that I did not at anytime intend to cause offence to anyone.”
A local party investigation had cleared him over the tweets - made between four and seven years ago and before he became a Tory member.
It said they “may not have been to everyone's taste" but found there was “never any intention to offend or cause hurt".
Shadow Home Secretary Ms Abbott asked on Twitter: “Is this how seriously the Conservatives are taking online abuse?”