A Labour councillor has been suspended from his local party after throwing a Nazi salute towards local UKIP and Conservative politicians.
Police have been made aware of Plymouth councillor Jonny Morris’s actions, and a Conservative member said the gesture could be considered a “hate crime”.
Mr. Morris’s salute came during a meeting of the city council – run by the Tories and UKIP – to set its budget.
He has now apologised for his behaviour, claiming to have become “angry” after the councillors cut the debate on the budget short by calling for the vote to be taken, the Plymouth Herald reports.
The Labour man tweeted: “Would love to report debate on @plymouthcc budget. Blukip scared of debate, so they silence it. No debate. Total contempt by shysters”.
Later, in a statement issued after the meeting, he said: “I was very angry at the closing down of debate on Plymouth’s budget by the UKIP/Tory ruling group.
“I let that anger get the better of me, and made an inappropriate and offensive gesture. I apologise unreservedly.”
Leader of the council, Cllr Ian Bowyer, said the act could be considered a hate crime and was “totally unacceptable”.
He said: “I think the council’s monitoring officer will doubtless wish to investigate further – there are potentially serious consequences here.
“Although Cllr Morris apologised for his behaviour in my opinion this constitutes hate crime, which is totally unacceptable.”
He added: “I cannot ever recall such an uncontrolled outburst in the council chamber. It besmirches the reputation of public office.”
Tudor Evans, leader of the Plymouth Labour group, confirmed that Cllr Morris had been suspended while the matter is investigated.
“The whips are now looking into the matter,” he said. “Obviously we take this very seriously.”
There are 27 Labour councillors in the authority, 27 Tories, and three UKIP members. The Tories and UKIP have not agreed on a formal coalition but have a “working arrangement” in the chamber.