Investigation dropped after West Suffolk councillor resigns amid racism allegations
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A by-election to replace a West Suffolk councillor who resigned amid allegations of sharing racist posts on social media cannot take place until May next year.
Conservative Frank Warby resigned from West Suffolk Council and the Conservative party on Monday after an investigation was launched into posts the 79-year-old shared on his Facebook account.
The posts shared were 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 Barracks in Woolwich, London, in 2013.
MORE: West Suffolk councillor Frank Warby resigns amid racism allegationsMr Warby also shared posts about the removal of statues with links to slavery and Britain’s colonial history.
The Bury St Edmunds Conservative Constituency Association (BSECCA) confirmed it had begun an investigation into the matter, with West Suffolk Council also launching an investigation following complaints.
On Tuesday, the authority confirmed that investigation had now been dropped following Mr Warby’s resignation.
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A spokesman said: “West Suffolk Council had launched a standards investigation into the conduct of councillor Frank Warby and posts made on social media.
“Following the resignation of councillor Warby we have consulted with the independent person on the future of the investigation process.
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“The independent person is appointed to provide their views on allegations of breaches of the West Suffolk councillors’ code of conduct and the chief executive has now confirmed that the investigation has been suspended.”
It is understood that it is at the discretion of the council monitoring officer to decide whether an investigation needs to be continued.
Paul Rayner, chairman of the BSECCA, 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 had previously served two terms at the former St Edmundsbury Borough Council in the early 2000s as well as serving on Bury St Edmunds Town Council on a previous occasion.
MORE: Robin Vickery resigns following 600 complaintsIt means that a by-election will now need to be held for his Moreton Hall seat, but current social distancing restrictions means the Government has halted any form of election until May 2021, although that could be moved forward if the Government deems it safe.
Alongside that by-election will be a by-election for the Ipswich Borough Council seat of Robin Vickery – another Suffolk councillor who resigned following allegations of sharing racist posts.
Mr Vickery also resigned from his county council seat, which was up for election in 2021 anyway, with Mr Vickery having already made a decision to stand down, as well as from the Conservative party.
It is understood Suffolk County Council had also dropped its investigation into Mr Vickery because it felt his resignation meant any outcome could not be implemented anyway.
Other elections scheduled for this year were the police and crime commissioner elections and a third of Ipswich Borough Council, both of which will now take place in May 2021 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. A single East Suffolk Council by-election is also lined up for 2021 for the Framlingham ward.
An election for the whole of Suffolk County Council is due in 2021.
The full list of elections expected next year are as follows:
• Suffolk County Council – whole council due for election in 2021 as planned
• Ipswich Borough Council – one third of the council due for election 2020, but delayed by coronavirus, plus the Castle Hill seat vacated by Robin Vickery
• Suffolk police and crime commissioner – delayed from May 2020
• East Suffolk Council – one by-election for the Framlingham seat after the resignation of William Taylor earlier this year for personal reasons
• West Suffolk Council – one by-election for the Moreton Hall seat vacated by Frank Warby this week
MORE: PCC and Ipswich council elections delayed from coronavirusMr Warby has been contacted for comment but over the weekend 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.