A suspended Tory councillor has apologised to Jeremy Corbyn and agreed to pay him “substantial damages” for a tweet containing a fake photograph of the former Labour leader at the scene of the Liverpool terrorist attack.
Paul Nickerson, who sits on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, was suspended by his Conservative group last week for the doctored image of Mr Corbyn laying a poppy wreath by the burning taxi – accompanied with the caption “unsurprisingly”.
In a statement posted on social media on Tuesday, Mr Nickerson said he accepted “full responsibly” for the “false defamatory statement” that was published on his Twitter account and that he had agreed to pay “substantial damages and legal costs to Mr Corbyn”.
“The false photograph, captioned by the word ‘unsurprisingly’, gave the completely untrue impression that Jeremy Corbyn supports terrorist violence, including suicide bombings, which, without any hesitation, I wholly accept he does not,” Mr Nickerson said.
He added: “Without reservation, I fully withdraw any suggestion or inference that Jeremy Corbyn is a supporter of terrorist violence. The tweet was wrong and I retract it.
“I unreservedly and sincerely apologise to Mr Corbyn for the hurt and distress that has been caused to him by the tweet. I entirely accept that the posting of the message the day after Remembrance Sunday aggravated the hurtful nature of the defamatory tweet.”
Mr Corbyn’s had instructed his solicitor to bring legal proceedings for libel after the tweet was posted on 15 November, and revealed he would be donating the damages to charity.
“The bomb attack on Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday was a horrific crime, which could have killed or maimed countless victims, including new mothers and their babies,” the former Labour leader said in a statement.
He added: “Councillor Paul Nickerson’s photoshopped Twitter post about me failed to understand the seriousness of the threat and did a disservice to all those affected by the attack and their loved ones.
“So I welcome his decision to apologise for his defamatory post, to agree not to repeat the tweet which he has deleted and to pay substantial damages and legal costs. This substantial settlement will be used to support charities that are close to my heart: including one in Liverpool and one in my constituency.”
Last week, Jonathan Owen, the Conservative leader in East Riding, said Mr Nickerson’s doctored image was “inappropriate and offensive” and therefore had had suspended him while an investigation was underway.
“All people in public life, irrespective of politics, should be united in condemning the terrorist attack that took place outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday,” he added.
“It is not the time for inappropriate remarks, however intended, and they will not be tolerated in this Conservative Group. Residents should expect their elected representatives to act in an appropriate manner at all times.”
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