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Councillor stripped of party membership over social media posts

PUBLISHED: 17:27 31 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:27 31 May 2019

Rocky Gill has represented the Longbridge ward in Barking since 2006. Picture: Archant

Rocky Gill has represented the Longbridge ward in Barking since 2006. Picture: Archant

Archant

A long-standing local councillor has been expelled from the Labour Party after apparently throwing his weight behind the Brexit Party on social media.

One of the tweets from Cllr Gill's account. Picture: ArchantOne of the tweets from Cllr Gill's account. Picture: Archant

The Post has learned that Cllr Rocky Gill, who represents Longbridge ward in Barking, was excluded from the party on Friday, May 24 due to his conduct online.

The move is likely to relate to a flood of recent tweets issued from Cllr Gill's Twitter account in which he appeared to indicate support for Nigel Farage's Brexit Party.

A spokeswoman for Barking and Dagenham Labour Group said: "We have received notice from the legal and governance unit of the Labour Party that Cllr Rocky Gill has been excluded from the party.

"As of May 24 Cllr Gill was excluded for online conduct regarding his support for another political organisation during the recent election period, which is incompatible with Labour membership.

Some of the retweets that were issued from Cllr Gill's account over April and May. Picture: Archant.Some of the retweets that were issued from Cllr Gill's account over April and May. Picture: Archant.

"As such, he is also no longer a member of Barking and Dagenham Labour Group.

"As this is an individual matter for Cllr Gill, we do not wish to comment any further and acknowledge the 14-day appeal process that the party operates for all auto-excluded members."

Cllr Gill's page on the Barking and Dagenham Council website has been updated to indicate that he is now an independent councillor.

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A series of tweets have recently been deleted from Cllr Gill's personal Twitter account but the Post has seen screengrabs of some of the content.

Between April 2 and May 5, Cllr Gill directly retweeted political content issued from Nigel Farage's Twitter account on at least five occasions, and from the official Brexit Party account on no less than nine.

Among the posts was one that indicated the Brexit Party was polling well, and others that claimed Westminster was "betraying" the public.

On April 13 he retweeted a post from online magazine Spiked which had quoted Nigel Farage as saying: "We want to put the absolute fear of God into Brexit betraying MPs."

Rocky Gill's page on Barking and Dagenham Council website now states he is an independent. Picture: ArchantRocky Gill's page on Barking and Dagenham Council website now states he is an independent. Picture: Archant

One tweet directly from Nigel Farage, retweeted by Cllr Gill on April 2, said: "The Islington, middle-upper class, Champagne socialist Labour party have no idea about how millions of their voters feel about being betrayed... It looks like The Brexit Party will have to teach them a lesson".

Another post from the Brexit Party retweeted by Cllr Gill on April 25 said Labour was "now a full remain party".

Under Labour party rules any member who supports or promotes another political organisation is ineligible to be or remain a member and is automatically excluded.

Cllr Gill has represented Longbridge on Barking and Dagenham Council continuously since 2006 and is also on the governing body of Barking Abbey, a specialist sports college.

A Brexit Party retweet made from Cllr Gill's account on April 23. Picture: ArchantA Brexit Party retweet made from Cllr Gill's account on April 23. Picture: Archant

In 2014 he was among a group of "rebel" councillors who faced expulsion from the Labour whip while threatening to vote against proposed budget cuts, and in 2013 told the Post his role models included his father, a former steel factory worker, businessman and councillor, and Jo Richardson, Barking's former Labour MP, who served from 1974 until her death in 1994.

When approached by the Post this afternoon he said he "did not have information" about his exclusion, and did not comment further.

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