A FORMER mayor who resigned over social media posts has had complaints about his conduct dismissed.

Ferryhill Town Councillor Richard Smith gave up the chains of office last month after he was publicly criticised for Facebook posts he shared about gay people and Islam.

Several local politicians, female impersonator Tess Tickle and more than 500 petition signatories had called for him to step down.

Official complaints were made to Durham County Council, which monitors councillors' conduct, by 17 residents who alleged the postings were variously 'homophobic, transphobic, extremist and stir up hatred against persons on the basis of protected characteristics such as as their sexual orientation or religion'.

Councillor Smith said they were 'false and damaging to his integrity' and possibly politically motivated.

The monitoring officer considered the complaints and decided no further action was needed.

They found he had not breached a code of conduct as the posts were on his personal Facebook page, did not refer to council business and most pre-dated his election to the council.

Cllr Smith, a pastor with the Immanuel Christian Fellowship, said: "I'm grateful that the council has recognised my right to freely express my Christian faith while remaining a town councillor.

"My faith in Christ is what drives me to help people regardless of their faith, disability, colour, culture, sexuality, or political persuasion.

"I have never let the convictions of my faith dictate who receives my help or help from the church."I've always been motivated by the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus, a love that is full of mercy and grace."