A HIGH-profile councillor who was barred from all the pubs in a town centre following class A drugs being found in a toilet has hit back, saying he is the victim of a political vendetta.

Councillor Darrien Wright, who won the Graham Norton BBC One show Strictly Dance Fever competition in 2006, has categorically denied allegations linking him to a bag of cocaine found in the Boot and Shoe pub in Darlington on November 10 last year.

The independent member for Bank Top and Lascelles, who became the council’s first LGBT+ ambassador in February, attended Darlington Police Station voluntarily during the same month and said officers concluded he “had no case to answer”.

It is understood the bag of drugs was tested for fingerprints and Cllr Wright’s were not on it. Cllr Wright’s supporters say it was an outrageous leap to link him to the drugs given the number of people that had visited the pub’s toilets.

Durham Constabulary said it only commented in cases where people had been charged and Darlington Pubwatch, a group of licensees dedicated to ensuring safety in the town’s bars, declined to comment on Cllr Wright’s case.

However, its chairman, James Buxton, said decisions to ban people were made by a committee after it received a police reference and it limited its action to warning letters over incidents it considered as less serious.

Cllr Wright said some people had set out to blacken his name as he was popular and working to do good.

He said: “It’s absolutely right that the police investigate allegations, as a councillor I’m not above the law. The police concluded in February that there was no case to answer after my cooperation.

“Town centre venues should not be able to use the Pubwatch platform to pursue a politically-motivated personal vendetta.

“The only reason I stood as a councillor was to make a difference. To try and do something that is fake news is just disgusting, especially when it is playing on different people’s mental health. It’s just wrong.”

The council’s leader, Councillor Heather Scott, said she had “great respect” for Cllr Wright and declined to comment about what she viewed as a personal matter.