Published: 07:57, 06 March 2019
| Updated: 09:47, 06 March 2019
A Conservative council leader has been suspended from the party after he retweeted a tweet which defended the far-right activist Tommy Robinson.
Cllr Andrew Bowles, who has led Swale Borough Council for 16 years, said he did not wish to comment on the suspension, which he was told about last night.
Last week, he shrugged aside criticism of him after retweeting support for far-right activist Tommy Robinson.
The founder of the English Defence League was this week permanently banned from Facebook and Instagram for repeatedly breaking policies on hate speech.
The tweet in question said the decision to ban Mr Robinson was a "disgraceful injustice" and urged people to retweet it if they agreed, which Cllr Bowles, who represents the Boughton and Courtenay ward, did.
Cllr Bowles said he intended to continue to represent the 13,000 residents in the borough.
The timing of the suspension could place a question mark over whether he will stand in the forthcoming local election in May.
As things stand, his suspension means he cannot officially stand as a Conservative.
The Liberal Democrat county councillor Anthony Hook had written to the Conservative group leader on Kent County Council, Cllr Paul Carter, asking for Cllr Bowles to be suspended.
Swale council says it has also received complaints about the retweet.
A Swale spokesman said: “The council leader is elected to serve in that position by councillors and the current issue is at this stage primarily a matter for the local party.
“We have received complaints about the tweet and will be considering those in line with our usual processes.”