Police in Wales are investigating a councillor over a social media post which showed him brandishing a gun and saying he wanted to make sure “there wasn’t any English people trying to cross the channel”.
Jon Scriven, a Plaid Cymru representative on Caerphilly Council, has also been suspended by the Welsh nationalist party over the post, as he faces accusations of anti-English “xenophobic”.
The Plaid councillor later deleted and apologised for the “ill-judged” photo posted on Facebook, taken at the Ogmore-by-Sea village which overlooks the Bristol Channel across from England.
South Wales Police said it was “aware of a post on social media featuring a man brandishing what looks like a rifle at Ogmore-by-Sea”.
Michelle Conquer, the force’s superintendent, said: “An allegation of malicious communications has been reported to us and we are investigating the matter.”
The full post, uploaded by Scriven on 8 August, said: “Ogmore-by-Sea tonight for a quick swim and make sure there wasn’t any English people trying to cross the channel.”
It sparked outrage and accusations of xenophobia towards English people. Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies tweeted on Monday that he was “speechless”, adding “This sort of xenophobic attitude is beneath us.”
Chris Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda in south Wales, described the councillor’s post as “appalling”.
Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Jane Dodds MP said in a statement: “There is a clear implication of violence and xenophobia in this post.”
She added: “Whether or not it was intended as a joke or not, it is entirely inappropriate for an elected official to make such comments, when they should know better. With so much hate in politics the last few years we should be trying to build bridges, not stoke division further.”
Caerphilly Senedd member Labour’s Hefin David tweeted: “We should be seeking to unite and address real concerns such as the cost-of-living crisis. Wrapping yourself in a flag and hating outsiders won’t help a single person in need.”
A day after the post was circulated, Scriven wrote on Facebook: “I would like to apologise for any offence caused by my now deleted Facebook post. It was ill-judged and I have apologised to the group leader Lindsay Whittle who has accepted my apology.”
A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said he had been suspended pending an investigation. “Councillor Scriven’s now deleted post was inappropriate and goes against Plaid Cymru’s views and values. He was right to apologise for any offence caused,” they said.
The Welsh Tory leader called on Plaid leader Adam Price not to “let another scandal rage on without decisive action”.
Mr Davies appeared to be referring to the recent saga involving Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards, who was suspended then readmitted into the Westminster party after receiving a police caution for assaulting his wife.
Edwards, facing calls to quit as MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, later said he will not re-join the Welsh nationalist party’s group in order to allow for a “period of calm reflection”.