Spennymoor councillor breached code of conduct by posting 'racist' messages online

Spennymoor councillor Pete Molloy was found to have breached the code of conduct by posting "racist" comments online. Credit: Durham County Council / ITV News

A county councillor breached his authority’s code of conduct by posting “racist” comments online. 

Spennymoor councillor Pete Molloy was referred to Durham County Council’s standards committee after he bemoaned “non-indigenous” British people for voicing their opinions in the mainstream media following the King's coronation.

Opposition councillors called for his immediate resignation following the post in May but Cllr Molloy stood by his claims. He argued it was posted from his personal Facebook page and not in his capacity as a county or town councillor. 

The comments were in response to a news story headlined: ‘Bridgerton star Adjoa Andoh stuns ITV presenters by calling the Buckingham Palace balcony “terribly white” during live Coronation coverage’. 

“I don’t care if this post offends anyone, because enough is enough now and it’s about time more and more people grew a pair and speak their minds and stopped being the silent majority and become the vocal majority,” Cllr Molloy said. 

“Another non-indigenous British person with not just a chip, but a whole sack of King Eddie potatoes on their shoulder.”

The comments shocked members across the council chamber, with Labour leader Cllr Carl Marshall calling for Cllr Molloy’s resignation.

“These comments are racist, misogynistic, divisive and not beholden to a member holding elected office at Durham County Council,” he said. 

Cllr Molloy, a member of the Spennymoor and Tudhoe Independent Group, said he had a right to freedom of expression and the complaint was politically motivated. He also refuted claims that the comments were racist. 

However, a standards committee found he was acting in his capacity as a councillor when the comments were made and did not accept his freedom of expression defence. 

It comes after another standards committee meeting in 2021 found Cllr Molloy posted Islamophobic and racist material on social media, brought his town council into disrepute and bullied and disrespected two of its officers.

The panel said Cllr Molloy would be aware of the guidance regarding social media following the earlier ruling. 

Cllr Molloy was ordered to take training on member relations.

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