A SENIOR Tory has apologised after falsely claiming she was subjected to attacks on social media during the local elections by a rival.

Cheryl Roe, deputy leader of Rochford District Council, claimed rival Lib Dem candidate Ian Oakley had subjected her to “personal attacks on social media” during the campaign, an issue she raised during her victory speech on election night.

The issue of attacks on social media has received national attention with several MPs claiming it was a factor in their decision not to seek re-election.

However an independent review found no such attacks were made by Mr Oakley.

Ms Roe has agreed to apologise to Mr Oakley but still insists she was subjected to abuse generally.

The council’s monitoring officer stated: “ I am aware of the comments and personal criticism which members can often receive on social media.

“Given that there is no evidence of reputation harm to the complainant and it is accepted that the actions of councillor Roe are without malice or intent, but rather a reaction to a difficult and emotive campaign, an informal resolution is the appropriate course of action in this case.

“There is no evidence to show that Mr Oakley has been personally disadvantaged or suffered any reputational damage.”

Ms Roe, told the Echo the election campaign had been stressful for her and her family. She said: “Unfortunately, I was subjected to abuse on social media during the election campaign in May.

“In my thank you speech when I was re-elected it was mentioned and I do accept that the abuse was not forthcoming from Mr Oakley.

“I also thanked my family for not responding to these comments and they did not.

“However, Mr Oakley put in a complaint and following an investigation, I was asked to verbally apologise.

“I have since done so saying that if he was offended by any gestures I apologise.

“I would like to thank colleagues, residents, friends and family for their messages of support .

“It has been overwhelming.

“I will continue to do what I am good at and that is represent the residents and enjoy my new role as deputy leader of Rochford District Council.”

James Newport, leader of the Rayleigh Lib Dems said Mr Oakley had been quite upset about the allegations. He said: “It has had an impact on him.

“He didn’t want his reputation to be damaged because of his charity work that he does.

“Ian has accepted the apology from her.

“But it wasn’t how he wanted the apology to be made.

“He wanted a public apology, rather than in a closed session.” According to the independent review, Ms Roe did not name Mr Oakley in her speech but it was clear who she was referring to.