Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Councillor Martin Hatley suspended for 'racist Japanese in 5 minutes' post

Martin Hatley Image copyright LDRS
Image caption Test Valley borough councillor Martin Hatley has publicly apologised for the post

A Conservative councillor has been suspended by his party after sharing a post on social media that could be "deemed to be offensive and racist".

Hampshire councillor Martin Hatley shared the "Japanese in 5 Minutes" guide on his personal Facebook profile.

It happened a day ahead of Prime Minister Theresa May's meeting with Japan's leader Shinzo Abe on Thursday.

He said it was "in the style of humour of the Two Ronnies" but has since deleted the post and apologised for it.

The post was designed to be read phonetically for comic effect and gave deliberately incorrect Japanese translations for English phrases and sentences including "see me ASAP".

'I'm least racist person'

Screen shots of it were sent to the Local Democracy Reporting Service by several residents and when contacted by the service, the Test Valley borough councillor removed the post - which he said had come from a French national.

He then released a public apology and said he would email fellow councillors to apologise for "any embarrassment caused".

In his apology, Mr Hatley said: "I have looked at the Facebook clip I re-shared, and although it could justifiably be considered to be more in the style of humour of the Two Ronnies, or the Carry on Films - which are still aired on national TV, it is certainly not what I would normally compose myself."

He added: "I am the least racist person I know".

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Image copyright Facebook

In a statement, the Test Valley Conservative Group said: "We are extremely disappointed that Councillor Hatley saw fit to share a graphic on social media which could be deemed to be offensive and racist.

"The content was unacceptable and Councillor Hatley showed a lack of judgement in posting it."

It added his behaviour had "fallen short of that expected of a Conservative representative".

In June Romsey councillor Ian Hibberd was kicked out of the party for making a racist comment on Facebook about Wellow parish councillor Harmeet Singh Brar's attire.

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