A COUNCILLOR has been suspended by his party after posting an allegedly racist post on social media.

Test Valley Conservative member Martin Hatley posted the ‘Learn Japanese in 5 Minutes’ guide on his personal Facebook profile, just a day before Prime Minister Theresa May was to meet Japan’s leader Shinzo Abe.

The post, sent to the Local Democracy Reporting Service by several residents, anglicised the Asian country’s language, in what Cllr Hatley – due to become Test Valley mayor in May – described as “in the style of humour of The Two Ronnies, or the Carry On films”.

However, when contacted by the Reporting Service, the Test Valley borough councillor removed the post, released a public apology, and said he would email fellow councillors to apologise for “any embarrassment caused”.

He added: “I am the least racist person I know.” and promised to be “hyper cautious” before posting on social media in the future.

Despite his efforts, the Tory group has suspended Cllr Hatley, who represents the Ampfield and Braishfield ward, pending further investigation.

Test Valley Conservative Group said in a statement: “We are extremely disappointed that Cllr Hatley saw fit to share a graphic on social media which could be deemed to be offensive and racist. The content was unacceptable and Cllr Hatley showed a lack of judgement in posting it.

“Cllr Hatley’s behaviour has fallen short of that expected of a Conservative representative. He has therefore been suspended from Test Valley Conservative Group pending further investigation.”

This is the second incident for the party in just over six months, after Romsey councillor Ian Hibberd was kicked out for making a racist comment on Facebook about Wellow parish councillor Harmeet Singh Brar.

In his apology, Cllr Hatley said: “It has been brought to my attention that a post I re-shared last night, from a French national, regarding suggested ‘Anglicised Japanese’ for beginners has caused some concern and offence amongst a couple of my personal Facebook friends.

“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.”

Cllr Hatley asked that others did not share the post and offered to make a personal apology to the “couple” of recipients who had been offended by it if they wished to contact him.