04/05/2018 16:52 BST | Updated 04/05/2018 17:33 BST

Conservatives Take Control Of Pendle Council After Reinstating Councillor Suspended Over Racist Joke

Labour slammed the move as 'shameful'.

Pendle Labour
Pendle Council's Tory leader Paul White with reinstated councillor Rosemary Carroll

The Conservatives took control of a council in Lancashire after reinstating a councillor who had been suspended for sharing a racist joke on Facebook.

Rosemary Carroll - a Tory councillor for Pendle Borough Council - was suspended from the Conservative Party for three months in June 2017 after she allegedly re-posted a joke comparing Asian people to dogs.

But the Earby ward councillor was reinstated by the Tories, giving the party 25 seats - and control of the council by one. Meanwhile, Labour have 15 seats and the Lib Dems have nine.

Labour insisted Carroll was reinstated on Friday, as the votes were being counted, but the Tories said she had been reinstated earlier.

It is the first time in 39 years Pendle Council has been under Tory control.

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Dawn Butler said Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis should not allow the party to rely on her votes and must intervene immediately.

Pendle Conservatives
Carroll was suspended from the Conservative Party last June

Butler said: “In January, Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis introduced a ‘respect’ pledge’ for candidates. Now, he’s praising Pendle Conservatives for winning the council, which they’ve only done by readmitting a councillor who was suspended for retweeting a racist joke.

“This is a shameless and cynical move that makes an absolute mockery of the pledge and shows the nasty party never went away.

“Brandon Lewis must intervene, apologise and immediately confirm this councillor will not be part of the Tory group and they will not rely on her votes.” 

Meanwhile, Pendle’s Labour leader Mohammed Iqbal called Carroll’s reinstatement “shameful”.

“The decision of the Conservative Party to welcome her back this morning [Friday] after she was found guilty of racism is appalling and it shows how low the Conservatives have sunk, simply to get control of the council,” he said.

“As late as yesterday, Conservatives were telling me there was no way they would let her back in, irrespective of what happened, and yet the MP and the leader of the Conservatives have this morning welcomed her back into the fold.

“That’s an appalling state of affairs. As a district, we have got rid of the last BNP councillor in the country, but a racist is now propping up the council as a Conservative.”

The move also promoted a response from American model Christine Teigen, who called it “fucking gross”.  

When contacted by HuffPost UK, Pendle’s Tory leader Paul White responded by putting down the phone.

In a later statement sent over text, White said Carroll’s post was shared “in error”, having already told the BBC she had been reinstated “in the last few days”. 

“In June last year Rosemary Carroll was suspended from the Conservative Party for three months over a post made on social media,” he said. 

“The post was shared in error but Rosemary fully accepted the potential upset caused and sincerely apologised. Having served her suspension period she rejoined the party and completed additional diversity training.”