A COUNCILLOR who was accused of liking racist comments about travellers has apologised on social media after appearing before a standards committee panel.

The Durham County Council panel hearing ruled the actions of Easington's ward councillor David Boyes were careless rather than malicious or seeking to incite violence.

He had been accused of breaching the code of conduct by liking racially discriminatory comments towards Travellers on Facebook.

The complaint was lodged by Dermot Feenan, a non-practising barrister and academic who works in the field of equality and non-discrimination.

Coun Boyes denied that the communications amounted to a breach of the code, and has said he abhors “any racism of any kind".

Writing an apology on Facebook, as required by the panel, Cllr Boyes said: “In May of this year I posted a video on this site of the aftermath of damage to our new picnic tables at the nature reserve.

“One of the tables had been totally destroyed by some people who had put a portable barbecue on it and it had burnt into the wood.

“Easington’s residents were rightly very upset and angry at this act of wanton destruction. It followed similar acts the year before on the site.

“In my commentary alongside the video I attributed the damage done to Travellers.

“Actually I said ‘apparently’ it was the same people from the year before. I now accept this was the wrong thing to say and I want to apologise to anyone from the travelling community who might have been offended by what I said.”

Outlining the decision of the panel, the report said: “The panel found that in liking the offensive comments, the member was reacting to the strength of feeling within the community regarding damage to a local site of particular importance both as an amenity space as well as a memorial for those killed in a mining accident.

“They accepted that the member in liking comments had no intention of directing the sentiments of the comments at Travellers, taking into account that the member had challenged some comments made.

“However, the reference to Travellers in the original post created the perception that the comments which followed, were directed at them.

“The panel consider the member's actions to have been careless rather than malicious or seeking to incite violence.”