ONE of Hampshire’s top Tories has reprimanded a Conservative councillor for slapping a political rival.

Barry Rickman, leader of New Forest District Council, has warned Councillor Penny Jackman about her future conduct. It comes after the councillor ended up in more hot water for posting a letter praising her for slapping an opponent on her Facebook page.

But Cllr Rickman told the Echo: “I’ve told her she needs to learn from this and think more about her actions.”

He revealed that Cllr Jackman apologised to fellow Tories on the council at one of their regular group meetings.

She said sorry when councillors assembled on Thursday night to discuss next week’s budget meeting.

Cllr Rickman added: “Everyone needs to learn from what has happened. Councillors have to be highly responsible in their actions.”

Cllr Jackman is also a member of Lymington and Pennington Town Council.

She was attending the recent Pennington by-election count when she slapped UKIP candidate Mike Beggs during a row about his election leaflets.

They cited a meeting at which she said “Let’s shut the buggers down” during a debate on attempts to evict Lymington Cricket Club from its ground.

Mr Beggs, 72, of Broadmead, Sway, said the blow broke his dental bridge.

As reported in the Daily Echo, Cllr Jackman later published a letter which praises her for striking Mr Beggs and says she should have struck him more forcefully.

The letter, which she posted on her Facebook page, says: “I feel I must write to you congratulating you on your actions. It’s a shame it wasn’t a harder slap.”

Senior Liberal Democrats in the Forest have called for Cllr Jackman’s resignation.

Conservative Campaign Headquarters in London declined to get involved, saying her conduct was a matter for local party members.

Desmond Swayne, Tory MP for New Forest West, which includes Lymington, declined to comment.