Eric Kitson resigns after 12 days as Ukip county councillor over offensive anti-Muslim postings on Facebook page

 

A Ukip county councillor has resigned over sharing offensive material about Muslims on his Facebook page.

Eric Kitson quit the Worcestershire County Council seat he won less than two weeks ago. The 59-year-old, who represented Stourport-on-Severn, has denied being a racist and claims he shared cartoons and jokes to show how "disgusting" they were.

He has since apologised and said it was "stupid" for him to share the messages, which were posted last year on his Facebook.

Bill Etheridge, the Ukip chairman for Dudley and Halesowen, said an internal investigation had been launched by the party and officials were considering Mr Kitson's membership of the party.

Mr Etheridge said: "Ukip does not condone hate, racism or prejudice. We totally condemn those things because it's not what the party is about. In fact it is the total opposite of what the party is about."

He said Mr Kitson's decision to resign was right under the circumstances.

"An investigation is taking place internally into the events and part of that investigation will consider his ongoing membership of the party.

"The party rules state that extreme views are not compatible so senior level head office members of the party will look at the facts of what has happened here and make their decision."

Mr Kitson has since closed his Facebook page.

He received 1,385 votes to take the Wyre Forest seat on 2 May, beating rivals from the three mainstream political groups.

In a statement released through Ukip today, Mr Kitson confirmed his resignation from his seat and apologised for "letting down" his friends, family and constituents.

Mr Kitson said: "It is with sadness that I am announcing my resignation as a councillor. I am extremely sorry to have let down my friends, the people in the hardworking Ukip team that got me elected, the people of Stourport on Seven who gave me the honour of electing and of course my family.

"Like many people who are not professional politicians, I used my Facebook page as a general post board. That was foolish. I am no racist, but I can understand why people could think so."

Ukip is continuing to investigate the incident and confirmed Mr Kitson's membership would be considered by the National Executive Committee (NEC).

Steve Crowther, Ukip chairman, said: "We believe that Mr Kitson is an honest man who has made, by his own admission, some serious mistakes, by posting or reposting offensive material on his Facebook page which he should never have associated himself with. He regrets this enormously, and rightly so.

"His decision to resign is, under the circumstances, the right one. Ukip deplores racism or religious intolerance in any form, and this is a stark demonstration that people who are careless, unthinking or foolishly provocative in their online activity can both give great offence to others and severely damage themselves.

"Mr Kitson's membership of the party will be considered by the NEC, who will take into account the outcome of the police investigation now under way."

West Mercia Police confirmed they were investigating after concerns were raised by members of the public.

A force spokeswoman said: "A man from Stourport was voluntarily interviewed by officers over concerns raised by the public about allegedly offensive and racist comments made on social media.

"A computer was also seized by police with the man's consent for evidence gathering purposes."

She went on: "An investigation has now been launched by West Mercia Police into the complaints and officers will establish whether any offences have been committe

The spokesman stressed that Mr Kitson had not been arrested over the alleged events and that a file had been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration.

PA

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