Tuesday 8 November 2022

COMPLAINTS against a Beverley councillor made a year ago will be the subject of a meeting of East Riding Council’s Standards Committee next week. The complaints, from 510 people, against Cllr Paul Nickerson, then sitting as a member of the ruling Conservative group but now an Independent, followed his social media  posts about the former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The committee will be told at its meeting a week on Friday, that a tweet depicted a manipulated image of the MP holding a Remembrance wreath at the scene of the Liverpool terror attack outside the Liverpool Women’s Hospital, together with the caption “Unsurprisingly”. The same image was also posted on Facebook from the account of Paul Nickerson with the caption “Oh Jezza”.

There was a huge backlash against the posts at the time and Cllr Nickerson (pictured), who represents Minster and Woodmansey Ward, subsequently agreed to pay damages to Mr Corbyn, who said the money would be directed to charities – including one in Liverpool.

In a report to the committee, members will be told that Emma Appleton, a solicitor appointed to carry out the investigation, concluded that Cllr Nickerson had breached the council’s Code of Conduct in regard to “treating others with respect” and “conduct that could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute”.

In a written statement to the Standards Committee, Cllr Nickerson will say: “I accept the findings of the report without reservation and repeat my apologies. On the evening in question, I made a misjudgement that the image of Mr Corbyn was ‘satirical’ in its nature (for example the type of image common on the quiz show Have I Got News for You) which is why I forwarded it on, however I accept many people did not share this view, and I stand corrected.”

He continued: “I promise to all concerned, that this was a one-off mistake. We all make mistakes in life, and although I can’t justify this one I can, and have, at least learnt from it.”

The Standards Committe will announce their decision as to whether they find Cllr Nickerson in breach of the Code of Conduct, and any recommendations of sanctions, at the conclusion of the hearing and publish a written decision within two weeks of the hearing.