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Tory councillor publicly rebuked for sexist comment to Labour campaigner - at a meeting he failed to attend

PUBLISHED: 20:14 06 September 2018 | UPDATED: 20:15 06 September 2018

West Norfolk councillor Toby Wing-Pentelow Picture: David Bale

West Norfolk councillor Toby Wing-Pentelow Picture: David Bale

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A Tory councillor who made a sexist remark to a female Labour activist has been publicly rebuked - at a censure meeting he failed to attend.

Mr Wing-Pentelow made an insulting remark against Jo Rust. Picture: Matthew Usher.Mr Wing-Pentelow made an insulting remark against Jo Rust. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Conservative West Norfolk councillor Toby Wing-Pentelow breached the council’s code of conduct when he made an “insulting remark” to local Labour secretary Jo Rust, who had asked a question as a member of the public at a council meeting on January 25.

Mr Wing-Pentelow made a comment alluding to prostitution when Mrs Rust asked whether councillor Adrian Lawrence, portfolio holder for housing and community, would consider joining her at a homeless sleep-out.

Tory backbencher Mr Wing-Pentelow, who is also Mrs Rust’s own borough councillor, then retorted: “What, down the docks?”

A standards committee report states Mr Wing-Pentelow failed to apologise to Mrs Rust which “aggravated the severity of the breach.”

It added: “The panel also noted Cllr Wing Pentelow’s late and very brief explanation of the use of the term down the docks and lack of engagement in the investigative process.

“The panel considered that a reference to going or being down the docks is local common parlance for referencing prostitution which has historically centred around the docks in port towns such King’s Lynn and that this was a sexist comment.”

He was formally censured at a council meeting tonight but did not attend himself.

Council leader Brian Long said it was “deplorable” that Mr Wing-Pentelow failed to show up to apologise to Mrs Rust.

He apologised to Mrs Rust, who was present at the meeting, on behalf of Mr Wing-Pentelow and said he would be dealing with the matter outside of the chamber.

Councillors unanimously agreed with the standard committee’s recommendations for Mr Wing-Pentelow to be removed from any committee membership and appointments to any outside body.

Speaking after the meeting, Mrs Rust said: “I am bitterly disappointed that he wasn’t here to do the honourable thing.”

She added that a councillor who breaks the rules should be dismissed from his councillor post, adding; “He is my own borough councillor, the fact that I have never seen him in my area shows his lack of commitment.”

Labour councillor John Collop suggested councillors should lose their allowances if they are in breach of the code of conduct, and while Mr Long disagreed with this he said there should be tougher sanctions.

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