A FORMER parish councillor has pledged his support to Test Valley’s Martin Hatley, claiming there is “no evidence” of wrongdoing following the Conservative’s suspension for an allegedly racist Facebook post.

Harmeet Singh Brar, who was the recipient of a racist comment from now expelled Romsey Tory member Councillor Ian Hibberd last May, made the claim as part of a statement on his social media platforms – despite screenshots of the alleged racist post being sent to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

He adds that claims his former party colleague is a “racist and/or [an] intolerant individual” is “absurd and an outright lie”.

The former Conservative – who resigned from the party and joined the Liberal Democrats last year – also said that social media can be used “manipulatively” in order to “tarnish an individual’s reputation”.

As revealed by the Reporting Service last week, Cllr Hatley, member for Ampfield and Braishfield, posted a ‘Learn Japanese in 5 Minutes’ guide on his personal Facebook profile, just a day before Prime Minister Theresa May was set for talks with Japan’s leader Shinzo Abe.

The post anglicised the Asian country’s language, in what Cllr Hatley – who is set to take over as Test Valley mayor in May – described as “in the style of humour of the Two Ronnies, or the Carry on Films”.

However the Test Valley borough councillor later removed the post, released a public apology, and said he would email fellow councillors to apologise for “any embarrassment caused”.

He added that “I am the least racist person I know” and promised to be “hyper cautious” before posting on social media in the future.

Nevertheless, despite his efforts, his political group made the decision to suspend him, pending further investigation.

A decision on his future will be made in February.

Defending his former party colleague, Mr Brar said: “I am writing in support of you today regarding the recent allegations made against your character.

“Firstly, I must start by saying that any notion of you being a racist and/or intolerant individual is absurd and an outright lie; with there being no evidence to corroborate these unfair statements.

“Additionally, you were one of the only party members who supported me when I was the recipient of vicious racism within the Conservative Party in Southampton; a highly emotional period for me.

“Indeed, you publicly acknowledged the deep-rooted intolerance within the party and emphasised that any form of racial discrimination is unacceptable and has no place within politics; I thank you for this.”

He added: “It is with your unwavering support of me that I must make this public statement. Social media, particularly Facebook, can be used manipulatively in order to tarnish an individual’s reputation and provide an unfair representation of their nature.

“Finally, the outrageous and cruel comments targeted at you does not reflect the unrelenting commitment you have always given to public life and continue to do so.”