SOUTHEND’S deputy mayor is set to be hauled in front of the standards board after he was accused of racism for liking a Facebook comment. 

An independent investigation by a barrister found Tory councillor Mark Flewitt was “irresponsible” rather than racist, but he still faces action from the council.

Mr Flewitt had posted a news story about Chinese company Huawei on his Facebook page. 

He then liked a comment which read: “You can’t trust these with sweet and sour dog, let alone national security.”

Concerns centred on the racist undertones of the comment - insinuating Chinese people eat dog - and that liking the comment showed a “lack of respect”.

But Mr Flewitt said he saw it as a “satirical comment” rather than anything more sinister.

He said: “They’re wasting their time in taking it to the standards board.

“The complaint was politically motivated.

“It would have cost the council thousands to hire the barrister. 

“People get offended about everything.”

The investigation was prompted by a complaint from Labour councillor Matt Dent. 

Since, the Southend Conservatives have issued a staunch defence of Mr Flewitt. 

Tony Cox, the leader of Southend Conservatives, added: “The use of barristers to investigate this complaint is extraordinary and the public will be rightly concerned at the blasé use of taxpayers money.

“The council’s complaints system is fundamentally broken with trivial politically motivated complaints being made in an abuse of the councillor standards complaints process for party political point scoring.

“No Conservative will be taking part in any hearing which equates to a  council political show trial.”

Mr Flewitt also received another complaint from Mr Dent, in relation to a Facebook post he shared in November.

The Facebook post involved Mr Flewitt suggested introducing a public space protection order to “deal with the traveller problem.”

The complaint was squashed within 72 hours.

Matt Dent was contacted for comment, while Southend Council declined to comment