Tories urged to act in ‘racist joke’ row at Pendle Council


Rosemary Carroll


Rosemary Carroll with Paul White, the leader of Pendle Conservatives at the election count

Labour has demanded an apology after the Conservatives gained control of a council after reinstating a councillor suspended for sharing a racist joke on Facebook.

Rosemary Carroll’s return to Tory ranks handed the party control of Pendle council in Lancashire by a single seat.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said it was “unacceptable”.

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis said he would “have a look” at the case.

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Mr Lewis told Sky News Ms Carroll had taken part in diversity training and that her case had been “dealt with locally” last year.

She has previously said she meant to delete the post, which compared an Asian person to a dog, but ended up publishing it by mistake.

“The reality is when we have these issues we deal with them and she is a good example of that, that was dealt with at the time and it was dealt with locally to be fair as well,” he said.

Mr McDonnell told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “To have the Conservative Party take control of that council by reinstating a councillor who used the foulest, foulest joke, a racist joke is unacceptable.”

He called on Mr Lewis, who tweeted his congratulations to the Pendle Tories after the election, to apologise and for Ms Carroll to be suspended again.

Conservative Business Secretary Greg Clark said he was sure that “party authorities” would be investigating.

Ms Carroll was suspended for three months in June 2017 over the incident. After the suspension expired, she continued to sit as an independent councillor for the Earby ward. Previously she had held the year-long post of Pendle’s mayor between 2016 and 2017.

Pendle would have been a hung council following Thursday’s local elections if she had continued as an independent, but on Friday the council said it had been notified Ms Carroll had “re-joined the Conservative group”.

The Conservatives now control Pendle with 25 seats, ahead of Labour’s 15 and the Liberal Democrats’ nine.