A former mayor is under investigation by police after allegedly posting an anti-Muslim message on Facebook.
The inquiry into Seaham Town councillor Barbara Allen was put into the public eye after a resident of the town asked her about the message as she handed over the mayoral chains at the council’s annual meeting.
She confirmed police are looking into the post, which was put online early last month.
The Echo understands that since the inquiry came to light, the long-serving member said she has now left the Labour Party and is a member of Seaham Community Party (SCP).
When contacted, Coun Allen said: “I can’t give any comment about it.”
A Durham Constabulary spokesperson said: “We have received a report of an incident of malicious communications in which derogatory comments had allegedly been posted on social media.
“Inquiries are ongoing.”
A spokesperson for the council added: “The council has received a complaint about a councillor and in accordance with procedure this has been passed onto Durham County Council’s Standards Committee.
“It would be inappropriate to make any further comment whilst the matter is investigated.”
The Echo contacted Labour North for comment, but did not receive a response.
However, the Easington Constituency Labour Party said: “The Labour Party takes any reports of what may constitute racism very seriously and where there is any such evidence of a potential breach of rules individuals will be investigated.”
Coun Barry Taylor, leader of SCP, was also contacted for comment.
On its Facebook page, the SCP referred to ‘momentous events’ at the meeting, as Coun Allen handed over the role to SCP member Linda Willis, who is accompanied by her deputy in the office, Coun Taylor.
The party has said this is the first time the council has had a non-Labour mayor since May 1983.
The post added: ‘Seaham Community Party never sought this eventuality, but after last year’s shenanigans, where the Labour Group attempted to ‘shoe horn’ a new mayoral candidate into this office.
‘The SCP will not be put off from doing what we see as the best for Seaham people, nor side-lined by a moribund political group, that is more concerned with exerting total control over every aspect of STC, than working with and alongside other elected members, albeit from a different group.
‘We will continue to do what we were mandated to do, serve the people of Seaham and yes, we have no problem with working with and alongside other ‘elected’ members of whatever persuasion but we will do so as ‘equals’.’