Labour councillor reported over hate allegations

Zoe Kirk-Robinson has reported a Labour councillor to police. Credit: PA

A Labour councillor has been reported to police over a "hate incident" when he allegedly called a transgender Tory rival "he" during a council debate.

Zoe Kirk-Robinson, who has transitioned from being a man to a woman over the past 10 years, said Labour's Guy Harkin deliberately twice called her "he" during the meeting of Bolton Council.

The 35-year-old councillor, elected last year, said the "transphobia" incident was at a full council meeting, with 60 councillors, press, public and council officers present - and the room fell silent when Mr Harkin, 69, allegedly twice used the term to describe his opponent across the council floor.

She reported the matter as a "hate incident" online to Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and said they will now look at doing some "restorative justice" to resolve the matter.

Mr Harkin was unavailable for comment.

Ms Kirk-Robinson said: "All I'm looking for is an apology and a chance to say why this is inappropriate.

"It is hard to describe how cut to the core you are. To have someone attack me, for being me, it's deeply upsetting.

"Labour like to crow about being liberal. I've never had a comment from any Conservative. The Conservatives don't care as long as you can do your job."

Ms Kirk-Robinson reported a hate incident online to GMP last Thursday - the day after the council meeting - and has been in contact with officers since, she said.

The councillor said matters had been delayed slightly as officers were having difficulty contacting Mr Harkin.

She also said six Labour counillors had also made formal complaints to their own party bosses.

Ms Kirk-Robinson added: "It was at a full council meeting - there was press, public, the chief executive and 60 councillors.

"I heard him say 'he' twice. It was clearly deliberate, I made a speech two hours before and he had been sat there stewing.

"There was a reaction, everyone went silent, normally people are talking and muttering. It went silent.

"He's not denied that it has happened. He says he's not registered what he did.

"At the moment police are attempting to get hold of him to do some restorative justice. They will sit us down in a room and I will explain why this is wrong and that will be the end of it. It needed to be highlighted."

Ms Kirk-Robinson said though only elected in 2015 herself, she has met Mr Harkin before and both sit on some of the same council committees.

Calls to Mr Harkin's contact numbers have not been answered.

The former college lecturer, who has served as the town's mayor, is reported as saying it was a "slip of the tongue" and he denied being homophobic and offered to apologise.

The leader of the Labour group on Bolton Council has yet to respond to the Press Association.

Greater Manchester Police said they are aware of the incident.