A Morecambe councillor has been suspended from his party following allegations he was involved in setting up a “revenge porn” website.
Josh Brandwood, who represents Out Moss Lane Ward on Morecambe Town Council, said his decision to use pictures of people taken from social media app Snapchat for a Twitter page he set up was “incredibly dangerous and irresponsible”.
But he said that accusations that he used to be involved with “revenge porn” are outlandish and innacurate, and he is now seeking legal advice.
The Labour Group on Morecambe Town Council issued a statement on Monday, January 30, inviting Coun Brandwood to consider his position as a Town Councillor.
Coun Brandwood said he told Morecambe Town Council chairman Darren Clifford that he was involved with Snapchat Leaked prior to his candidacy as a Labour Councillor. Last week, he was featured on political website Guido Fawkes which claimed he used to run a ‘revenge porn’ site posting private photos.
The website said that after it contacted him for comment, he stood down from elections for the Labour’s Momentum movement national coordinating group.
Coun Brandwood said he had stood down due to his career and personal life outside politics, and it had nothing to do with the claims.
He said: “Four years ago at the age of 18, I was caught up in the online phenomenon known as ‘Snapchat Leaked’.
“At the time I thought it was a harmless trend so I decided to make a Twitter account and copy a few pictures from the original ‘Snapchat Leaked’ page. Although the pictures I copied were not sexually explicit, I simply cannot stress enough how incredibly dangerous and irresponsible this was.”
Coun Brandwood told BBC Newsbeat in 2013 the site was “just for a laugh”, however several days later he deleted the account.
He said: “I realised it was morally wrong. Sadly, someone resurrected the page and uploaded deplorable content which I utterly condemn.
“Four years later, as an elected representative, my involvement was rightly brought into the public realm.
“I can now see how naive I was back then, and feel ashamed of my actions.
“Every day hundreds of people fall victim to having personal pictures uploaded onto social media without their consent.
“I would like to express my deep regret with my inadvertent involvement with ‘Snapchat Leaked’ and I endeavour to share this experience with others in the hope it acts as a cautionary tale for others to learn from.”
A spokesperson for the Labour Group on Morecambe Town Council said: “What has come to light recently is new information about an old story. But Coun Brandwood’s original explanation for this was that he was attempting to highlight an issue with Snapchat and the ability to screenshot it to warn people and there was no reference to “revenge porn”. Our major concern is the inconsistencies in his explanation and his telling the media that it was “a bit of a laugh” and it is these that have compelled us to act.
“As a result the Labour group on Morecambe Town Council has asked Coun Brandwood to reflect on his position as Youth Champion, but has received no such undertaking. As a result we will be moving a resolution at a future meeting to remove him from that position of trust, we will also be suspending his membership of the Labour Group pending investigation and invite Coun Brandwood to consider his position as a Town Councillor.
“We are extremely disappointed as a group but feel there is no other option and our residents and more importantly the victims would expect no less.”