A WEST Cumbrian parish councillor has received a formal warning following a complaint that his some of his social media posts bordered “on inciting racial hatred”.

Councillor Joseph Williamson has been found to be in breach of the code of conduct for Facebook posts which the anonymous complainant said were “hateful towards Muslims and black people”.

He will now be asked to undertake social media training and the decision notice, along with all the evidence, will also be referred to the police.

The ruling from Copeland Council’s Standards and Ethics committee, published this week, also revealed that Mr Williamson “stood by the posts he had made”, “did not consider he had done anything wrong” and felt he had “not breached the code of conduct”.

And speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service at his home in Parton near Whitehaven, unemployed Mr Williamson strongly denied that he was a racist or that any of his posts were offensive.

He branded the ruling “unjust” and “over-the-top”, claiming to be critical of Islamist terrorists but not of the wider Muslim community.

He also stressed that he was opposed only to illegal immigration not to controlled immigration.

The 37-year-old admitted to referring to London as “Londonistan”, a reference to the capital’s growing Muslim population.

However, he claimed to have never mentioned race in any of his posts and strongly denied that his posts were intended to fan the flames of hatred.

The posts, presented as evidence in the form of screenshots, had previously appeared on his personal Facebook page and also on the page known as ‘Az Frae Parton An Proud avit!’ (‘I am from Parton and Proud of it’).

The committee agreed ahead of the meeting that the procedure had to be adjusted because the complaint had been received anonymously, not in the correct form, and had subsequently been withdrawn.

However, the committee decided it was “reasonable” and “in the public interest” to consider the complaint formally.

The panel considered whether Mr Williamson, of Seven Acres, was acting in his capacity as a member of Parton Parish Council at the time and whether the code of conduct applied to him.

And considering the evidence, they decided that he had referred to himself as a councillor in some posts on the page ‘as ‘Az Frae Parton An Proud avit!’ and the code of conduct did therefore apply to him.

There is no internal appeal against the decision available to Mr Williamson.

However, a right of appeal through a judicial review of the decision could potentially be lodged either with the High Court or via the Local Government Ombudsman in respect of “maladministration”.

Following the meeting, the panel unanimously agreed that Mr Williamson would be issued with a conditional warning which will stand for two years.

This means that if any complaints are received in the future and are substantiated, any sanction for that breach will also take into account the present breach as well.