An investigation has been launched after a council officer made an offensive gesture during a meeting.
City of York Council has apologised for the incident, which was live streamed on YouTube during the meeting at the council’s West Offices HQ shortly after 10am on Monday (14 June).
The gesture was made by Simon Brereton, head of economic growth. Now the council has edited the video to blur it out.
When Mr Brereton made the well-known derogatory gesture with his right hand, the official sitting next to him looked embarrassed and then appears to be stifling laughter. Mr Brereton then realises he’s on camera and clasps his hand to his mouth.
All this has been blurred over on the edited video.
The chair, Nigel Ayre, doesn’t appear to notice.
After the original video was taken down and edited, a council report said: “The reason for this is because the webcast contains an offensive gesture.
“The edit is that the offensive gesture has been pixelated. The sound is not affected by this edit.”
The meeting was a decision session for Cllr Ayre, the executive member for finance and performance.
The incident happened when Labour councillor Kallum Taylor was addressing the meeting about plans to protect the Jubilee pub.
Cllr Taylor told YorkMix: “I was made aware about this a few hours after the meeting finished. I won’t be reaching a full view on it until the ongoing investigation has taken place.”
What the council says
City of York Council has begun a disciplinary investigation.
In a statement it said: “We truly apologise for the inappropriate actions by one of our staff, which occurred in a recent public meeting. The individual has apologised to the person involved and is sincerely sorry for any hurt or offence that has been caused.
“Covid working practices are strange and sometimes disorienting.
“This doesn’t by any means defend this behaviour which does not reflect the character, hard work and commitment to the city of the individual or the important work undertaken to support the city in an incredibly challenging year.”
Additional reporting: Chloe Laversuch, local democracy reporter