Conservative councillor Shayne Pooley has been suspended by the party for three months after posting comments on Facebook that justified President Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Pooley was elected as Conservative councillor for Gainsborough last May after fighting the seat for UKIP in previous elections.

At the end of last month he prompted outrage after putting up two Facebook posts that claimed Ukraine was not an independent country and that "Putin just wants to give Ukraine its independence."

He was suspended by the party at the start of this month and has been sitting as an Independent councillor since then.

He will continue to sit as an Independent for the next three months while he attends social media training andn his activity on social media will be monitored by the party.

A statement from the Ipswich Conservative Association said it would hold another meeting in mid-June when Mr Pooley will be re-admitted to the party dependant on his conduct during the period of his suspension.

Ian Fisher, Conservative Group Leader at IBC, said: “The Association listened to Cllr Pooley’s explanation of events and took into consideration his immediate removal of the offending posts and public apology.

"Cllr Pooley was recently elected and now has a better understanding of his role in the community. The world would be a far worse place if we did not accept that someone can make a mistake, apologise for their actions & move forward.

"I have spoken with Cllr Pooley who suggested that he would like to do some work within the community, possibly with refugees, which I will help organise. Once he has done this, & dependant on the Association’s decision in June, then he will be re-admitted to our group at IBC.”

Mr Pooley said, “I now realise being potentially too open-minded in terms of debating about a sensitive story is not something I should have written about on my social media.

"I stood as a councillor in my local area because I love to help people and would never dream of seeing anybody hurt, especially through the act of war.

"I do not support Putin; I do support good defeating evil. I hope good wins overall and has the best possible outcome for the world and I pray the horrific war in Ukraine gets a swift & peaceful resolution.”

The three-month suspension did not impress the Labour leader of Ipswich council, David Ellesmere. He said: “This is an astonishing decision by Ipswich Conservatives.

"Shayne Pooley should have been thrown out of the Conservative Party. The views he expressed supporting Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine were abhorrent and completely at odds with the view of every right-thinking person in this country.

"This wasn’t just one social media post; it was a whole series of them and his fake 'apology' fools no one. He wasn’t 'debating' – he was wholeheartedly backing Kremlin propaganda.

“I know residents of Gainsborough Ward are horrified to have someone with these views as their councillor. They will be equally horrified to find out that Ipswich Conservative Association doesn’t seem to have a problem with this.”