Councillor resigns over Facebook posts controversy

PUBLISHED: 18:21 15 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:02 16 June 2020

West Suffolk councillor Frank Warby has resigned as a councillor and member of the Conservative Party  Picture: ARCHANT

West Suffolk councillor Frank Warby has resigned as a councillor and member of the Conservative Party Picture: ARCHANT

A Conservative councillor from Bury St Edmunds under investigation for allegedly sharing racist content on social media has resigned.

Frank Warby, 79, resigned from his position as councillor for Moreton Hall and from his party as a result of his Facebook activity, which came to light on Friday, June 12.

He had previously served as mayor for both Bury St Edmunds Town Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council in two terms in the early 2000s.
MORE: Councillor quits over Facebook posts

Mr Warby shared posts on his Facebook page asking questions as to why no riots took place in the UK following the death of Fusilier Lee Rigby, who was killed near the Royal Artillery Baracks in Woolwich, London, in 2013. He also shared posts regarding the removal of statues with links to slavery and Britain’s colonial past.

Lynn Rigby – Lee Rigby’s mother – issued a statement on social media urging people not to use her son’s death as a way to critique Black Lives Matter protests, but Mr Warby said he was not aware of the statement.

An official investigation into complaints about his Facebook activity by West Suffolk Council began on Friday, but the current status of the inquiry is currently not known.

He was suspended by the local Conservative association when the investigation was launched.
MORE: ‘I’m not a racist’ – Councillor investigated over Facebook activity

Speaking over the weekend, Mr Warby said he was deleting his Facebook account and that he has “had enough” of people “picking on him”.

He added: “I’m not a racist. I have never been a racist. I am not a racist person.

“I did not post these images, I shared someone else’s posts.

“We are caught up in a black and white fight at the moment. It seems no matter what you say you will be a racist.”

Mr Warby is the second councillor to come under fire for his social media activity in recent weeks, with former Ipswich Conservative councillor Robin Vickery also resigning for sharing similar posts.

Mr Vickery, who represented the Castle Hill ward for Ipswich Borough Council and the Carlford division for Suffolk County Council, had shared posts calling for BAME people – including leading Labour politician Dianne Abbott – to be deported. Both councils received more than 600 complaints combined as a result of the posts.

Paul Rayner from the Bury St Edmunds Conservative Constituency Association said: “Frank took the decision to stand down, which we fully support.

“Frank gave many years of service to Bury St Edmunds as a local councillor and I know many in our community will be grateful to him for all his efforts on their behalf.”

Mr Warby has been contacted for comment.

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