Former Hartlepool councillor jailed for sharing 'grossly offensive' Facebook posts

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A former Hartlepool councillor has been jailed for sharing offensive and racially aggravated Facebook posts.

Ex-Fens and Rossmere independent councillor Anthony Richardson, known as Tony, was sentenced to six weeks’ prison by Teesside Magistrates’ Court.

The 68-year-old had earlier pleaded guilty to an offence of sharing posts on Facebook in December 2019 that were grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.

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One related to a post he shared likening an immigrant trying to claim benefits to a dog.

Former councillor Tony Richardson. Picture by FRANK REIDFormer councillor Tony Richardson. Picture by FRANK REID
Former councillor Tony Richardson. Picture by FRANK REID

The magistrates’ sentence included a two-week “uplift” to reflect the racial element of the posts.

Prisoners typically have to serve half of their sentence in custody, meaning Richardson, who was jailed last week, will likely be released in a fortnight.

The posts previously saw sanctions imposed against Richardson by Hartlepool Borough Council after a complaint was made by a fellow councillor.

Other offensive posts made reference to Muslims and Isis.

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Teesside Magistrates Court.Teesside Magistrates Court.
Teesside Magistrates Court.

A subsequent standards hearing in January of last year found four posts he shared were a significant breach of the council’s code of conduct and brought the reputation of the authority into disrepute.

The hearing’s independent member called the post about the dog “vile and offensive” and “hate speech in any one's opinion”.

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He said he had been “significantly careless and naive”, attributing the posts to his difficulties using social media.

He resisted calls to resign saying he was voted in by the ward to represent it.

Sanctions imposed on him included the taking of diversity and social media training, his removal from two committees he sat on and being barred from sitting on any council committee.

They were lifted in February of this year and Richardson stood for re-election to the new Rossmere ward in May’s council elections for the Veterans’ and People’s Party.

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But lost his seat after failing to win enough support with 380 votes.

Richardson, of Banff Grove, Hartlepool, was also ordered by the court to pay £100 prosecution costs and a £128 victim surcharge.

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