COUNCILLORS have joined forces to condemn the actions of a council officer that saw peaceful protestors forced to remove items of their clothing in order to gain access to a public meeting.

Former cabinet member, Conservative councillor Mark Flewitt, has called for an investigation into the events that resulted in Mark Sharp, Patsy Link and Sheena Walker standing in the public gallery half naked. He said: “Scrap the Cabinet is a legitimate point of view. I assure you that I will play my part to see that it does not happen again.”

Labour Councillor Julian Ware-Lane said: “Not only is it an indignity to disrobe people, it is a suppression of free speech.”

Chief Executive Robert Tinlin has apologised and called for an investigation. In an email to Mark Sharp on Saturday he said: “Please accept my apologies for the situation you found yourselves in on Thursday evening. This was not any form of deliberate action against you and I regret that it has happened. I am conscious that you have worn tshirts in the past with this slogan without harm.

“I have asked a senior member of my management group to deal with your complaint. I will also be personally reviewing the guidance for our facilities and security staff to avoid any similar circumstances in the future.”