CONTROVERSY has surrounded the appointment of Tendring Council’s new chairman.

Jeff Bray, who is a Little Clacton Conservative councillor, was selected for the prestigious role.

But a spokesman for the Harwich Labour group said they “couldn’t possibly support him as chairman” and abstained from voting because of “history of his comments in the past”.

The reference was to posts made on his social media accounts. One of them read: “Not all muslims are terrerists [sic], but all terrerists [sic] are muslim.”

Another read: “Would Jimmy Saville’s [sic] behaviour have been acceptable if he had been muslim [sic] ??”

However, Mr Bray, 61, a former engineer and financial consultant, denied making the posts and said his accounts had been hacked.

Gazette: Jeff BrayJeff Bray

He said yesterday: “It has been disappointing that some old social media posts, falsely attributed to me more than four years ago, have been circulated by some desperate to gain an advantage in the upcoming elections.

“These first emerged in 2017 prior to a General Election in which I was a possible candidate; they were extensively reported by news media.

“They were discredited then and are no more credible now. I did not write them and I do not know who did.”

Mr Bray, who has been a councillor for six years, said he was proud to become chairman of Tendring Council.

He said: “I sincerely believe this council is among the very best in the country today.

“The Covid pandemic has had an adverse effect on us all and there will be new challenges as we emerge from the loneliness of lockdown.

“I am blessed with a group of hard-working councillors, from all parties, and a team of officers who are, in my opinion, the best of the best.

“I will do all I can to raise the profile of our district and make our council one to be even prouder of. The coming year will be crucial as we move back into a new kind of normality.

“There will no doubt be challenges, but I am confident with the wealth of talent we have available at our town hall that we will meet them head on.”