Burnley Labour councillor apologises for 'we must throw rocks at Tories' social media post

A senior Labour councillor has had to publicly apologise for a social media post which said ‘we must throw rocks at the Bastard Tories’.
Coun. Marcus Johnstone said he was upset and disappointed with himselfCoun. Marcus Johnstone said he was upset and disappointed with himself
Coun. Marcus Johnstone said he was upset and disappointed with himself

Marcus Johnstone’s regret was noted at a Burnley Council meeting yesterday after he was found to have breached the authority’s code of conduct.

The Rosegrove with Lowerhouse councillor had posted the comments on Facebook following the Conservatives December 2019 General Election victory.

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It prompted Conservative councillor Cosima Towneley to complain to the authority’s monitoring officer Lukman Patel.

His report was presented to Burnley Council’s Audit and Standards Committee.

It said: “An allegation was made by Coun. Towneley that Coun. Johnstone had breached the Council’s Code of Conduct for Members in relation to comments he made on his Facebook account in the aftermath of the General Election.

“On or about December 14th 2019 Coun. Johnstone posted a comment on his Facebook account in which he said: ‘Comrades! They’ve won. And now we resist. We must fight them to the last bullet.

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“‘And when that’s gone we must throw rocks at the Bastard Tories. And when there’s no rocks left, we go in and fight them hand to hand. Resist Resist’.

“Coun. Towneley alleged the comment was unacceptable behaviour, and the posting of such a vitriolic comment was classed as incitement and hate crime.

“The council’s monitoring officer instructed the council’s head of legal and democratic services to investigate the complaint.

“She found that Coun. Johnstone had breached the council’s code as he had failed to treat others with respect and had conducted himself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing the council and himself into disrepute.

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“She noted Coun. Johnstone had made it clear that he regretted his actions and was upset and disappointed with himself.

“The matter was dealt with by virtue of a local resolution and the following apology was provided by Coun. Johnstone that was accepted by Coun. Towneley: ‘It was never my intention to use my Facebook comment to incite violence or hatred against any of my political colleagues and I apologise unreservedly to anyone who may have been alarmed, offended or concerned by my actions. This has been a salient lesson in how not to use social media and I look forward to putting this incident behind me’.”

Coun. Towneley said: “I have accepted his apology. It was a silly, silly thing to post. Unfortunately with social media we all become keyboard warriors and Coun. Johnstone fell into that trap.”

Coun. Johnstone said: “I have nothing to add to the report.”