A Sheffield councillor who sent a photo of a topless woman to a group of mums during a council meeting has been suspended by Labour.
Coun Mohammad Maroof, who represents Nether Edge and Sharrow, has sincerely apologised for the “honest mistake”.
He says he was sent the unsolicited image and is “very embarrassed” that he accidentally forwarded it on to a group of mums and fellow councillors.
The photo was distributed to a Mums United WhatsApp group – as its founder Sahira Irshad was presenting a petition to full council on knife crime.
Instead of attaching a video of Ms Irshad speaking, Coun Maroof says he accidentally attached the image and within seconds, asked for it to be deleted.
Coun Maroof says the image was set to him earlier in the day on a different Whatsapp message and was automatically downloaded into his phone’s photo file.
He said: “This is my private phone and I receive so many things that my Whatsapp has been set up to automatically save everything in my phone’s photo file.
“Somebody sent me this photo, it may have come in the morning, and it went into my phone’s file.
“I tried to send the group a video and by mistake I pressed the wrong photo. As soon as I realised, I asked for it to be deleted as I couldn’t delete it myself. It was only there for a second.”
Coun Maroof wrote an apology in the WhatsApp group and has said sorry again.
He said: “I sincerely apologise. I had no intention to do such a thing and to cause such disruption. I have a lot of respect for the group. I am very embarrassed and this was an honest mistake.”
Coun Maroof says he helped to set up the Mums United group to empower women.
“They came to me and asked how to deal with anti-social behaviour and I gave them the idea of setting up a group, I’m proud of helping to do that.
“I have worked with Sahira and other members and I suggested the name because we need to give confidence and assurance to female constituents so, if there are some issues, they feel safe and comfortable going to talk to people.”
Labour Leader Julie Dore has suspended Coun Maroof pending an investigation.
She said: “This is, of course, a very serious matter. Everyone has the right to explain how something like this could have happened but because of the seriousness of this, we will suspend Coun Maroof immediately until we have ascertained the details.”
Although the photo was deleted, it has still prompted complaints. One member of the WhatsApp group, who did not want to be named, said: “Is this what is expected of our elected representatives? Absolutely disgraceful. It says a lot when women in his area are crying out for support and he is too busy posting this.”