Exclusive: 'Hired killers' councillor defiant on right to tweet

Disciplined: Councillor Ben Duncan
Disciplined: Councillor Ben Duncan

Each contained no more than 140 characters.

Each contained no more than 140 characters. But two tweets by Councillor Ben Duncan have resulted in him losing his job, his membership of the Green group on Brighton and Hove City Council, and his positions of (modest) influence on council committees.

In an exclusive article in Brighton and Hove Independent, Cllr Duncan described the tweets - one of which referred to British solders as "hired killers" - as "ill-advised jokes". With hindsight, however, he admits that he does not think the jokes were particularly funny.

Writing after a city council's standards panel found him guilty of breaching the council's code of conduct, Cllr Duncan remains defiant, arguing that democracy depends on his right to make such comments.

Cllr Duncan - now an independent councillor and a former communications adviser to Jean Lambert, the Green MEP - has been stripped of his roles as deputy chair of two licensing committees.

Warren Morgan, the leader of the Labour and Co-operative Group of 14 councillors, has called for him to stand down from the council: “From the day he made these comments, we have been consistent in calling for Cllr Ben Duncan to resign his seat.

"Following the result of the standards enquiry into his conduct, and his indication that he is going to appeal against their ruling that he brought his office into disrepute, we again call on him to resign without any further delay.”

Cllr Duncan won his Queen's Park seat from Labour when he was elected to the council in 2007.

In his article, the 43-year-old confirms he will appeal against the guilty verdict: "Then, I'll just need to decide whether to stand as an independent, pro-human rights candidate in central Brighton in next year's council election - to give people the chance to vote against me, if they don't like my jokes - or, just maybe, to choose me as their councillor. Just as democracy allows."