'Questions to answer' over councillor's invasion posts, council leader says

Shayne Pooley, Ipswich borough councillor for the Gainsborough Ward, has been suspended by the Conservative party

Shayne Pooley's posts about Putin's invasion of Ukraine have prompted a clash between David Ellesmere and Tom Hunt. - Credit: TASS/PA IMAGES/IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

Ipswich council's Labour leader David Ellesmere has said the town's Conservative MP Tom Hunt has "questions to answer" over comments by Tory councillor Shayne Pooley in his election literature when standing for the Gainsborough council seat last year.

Mr Pooley has been suspended by the Tories until June at least for comments he made at the start of the invasion of Ukraine justifying the Russian invasion.

But in his election literature last year he said: “After many conversations with MP Tom Hunt, I decided that what was most important was getting Brexit done and then by standing in the local elections to help make some needed changes to the area.”

Leader of Ipswich Borough Council David Ellesmere

David Ellesmere questioned why Mr Pooley had been selected to stand by the Conservatives. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Mr Ellesmere said: "Tom Hunt in particular needs to answer questions about his judgement as it is clear from a posting on the Ipswich Conservatives website that he personally put a lot of effort into recruiting Shayne Pooley to the Conservative Party."

However, Mr Hunt said all their conversations had centred on making Gainsborough a better place: "I have been working very hard to improve Gainsborough since before I became MP and Mr Pooley has been working very hard in the community here for many years.

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said Mr Pooley had been selected because of his long record of community work in the Gainsborough ward. - Credit: PAUL GEATER

"That's what our conversations about, not about politics in general - the only wider political issue we discussed was the fact that we both strongly supported Brexit."

He had been vociferous in his condemnation of the Russian invasion and wholeheartedly supported the British government's backing for Ukraine.

He said: "I won't take criticism over my position on Ukraine from politicians who were trying to put Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10 at the last general election - he's one of the biggest apologists for the Russians in this country."

Most Read

Mr Corbyn came under criticism after expressing doubts about whether Russian agents used nerve agents in Salisbury in 2018 - and for supporting comments by the Stop the War Coalition before the invasion that NATO was partially responsible for the tension in Ukraine.

However he did tweet his opposition to the invasion once Russia had moved in and called for its immediate withdrawal.