Tory councillor apologises for social media posts over Ukraine invasion

Shaynne Pooley

Conservative councillor Shayne Pooley. - Credit: Ipswich Borough Council

Ipswich Conservative councillor Shayne Pooley has released a "profuse and sincere" apology after putting up social media posts which appeared to support Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

But his position in the party is still unclear - an emergency meeting of the Ipswich Conservative Association is being organised to discuss the issue within days.

Mr Pooley had put up Facebook posts claiming that President Putin was trying to give Ukraine its independence and repeating discredited claims that the UN does not recognise Ukraine as an independent state.

After a storm of criticism, Mr Pooley issued a statement through Ipswich Conservatives saying: "Upon reflection, I can see that my social media posts were wrong and were made as a result of believing false propaganda that has been presented as facts.

"I profusely and sincerely apologise for any offence that I have caused and offer my support to the people of Ukraine."

However, that is not the end of the issue for Mr Pooley, who was elected as a Conservative councillor for the Gainsborough ward in May - until recently that has been seen as a safe Labour ward.

Mr Pooley had stood for election in Gainsborough before - as a UKIP candidate in 2018 and 2019 and he had built up a strong personal vote despite a drop in support for his party nationally.

But last year he stood as a Conservative and won the seat with a majority of 158.

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Conservative group leader Ian Fisher was quick to dissociate the party from Mr Pooley's comments.

His statement said: "The post does not reflect the opinions of the Conservative Association who wholeheartedly stand behind the people of Ukraine in their struggles against the ferocious aggression from Vladimir Putin.

"We all wish for a quick, peaceful conclusion to the aggression shown by Russia and a return to Ukraine being a self-determining democratic country in its own right."

He added that the association was hoping to organise a special meeting to discuss the issue within days in the hope of resolving it by the beginning of the week.