Matthew Sephton, a Conservative councillor for Altrincham, Greater Manchester, has reportedly been arrested and bailed in alleged connection with child abuse images.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) officers arrested a 41-year-old man in Altrincham on 1 December at 6am.
A member, reported to be the prominent councillor, been suspended by the Conservative Party and the council group. The NCA have not made it clear whether the reported arrest relates to alleged possession, distribution or creating of child abuse images.
Who is Sephton?
Sephton, a teacher at a Primary School in Stockport, is well-known for his right wing and anti-immigrant views, and was one of the local leading figures of the Leave campaign during the EU referendum.
Back in September 2015, Septhon caused national outrage on social media after hitting out at migrants.
Sephton was attacked on Twitter after saying migrants who are unwilling to get off trains at camps should be “transported directly back from where they came”.
His tweet came amidst a growing refugee crisis that saw thousands of people drowning in the Mediterranean Sea.
But the Tory politician didn’t stop there. In February 2016, he put his local party in the spotlight again when he posted an image of a flyer seemingly aimed at foreigners, urging them to come to England to get “free benefits”.
The leaflet reads:
Tired of your job? Sick of working 40 hour or more each week just to feed your family? Would you like to relax all day and still have all the benefits of a full time job? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should consider moving to England, The Welfare Country.
Each time his comments were branded as “disgusting”. But the councillor always refused to respond to criticism and declined to comment. Septhon always had the support of his local party and was up until today considered as a hardworking councillor by his Conservative peers.
But his reported arrest in relation to alleged child abuse images will certainly plunge the greater Manchester Conservative Party into turmoil.
The Conservative Party in denial?
A spokesman for the Conservative Party said:
A member has been suspended from the party and council group pending the conclusion of an ongoing police investigation. It is not appropriate to comment further.
While a Trafford Council spokesman said:
Trafford Council is aware of the situation but cannot comment further due to an ongoing investigation by the National Crime Agency.
But last week, both Conservative Party and local council removed all contact details for constituent correspondence, from the councillor’s profile. They even decided to change Septhon’s political affiliation from ‘Conservative’ to ‘none’ sparking rumours as to why the councillor had disappeared from public eye.
Sephton is a teacher at Westmorland Primary School in Stockport, and has been suspended by the school until the investigation has concluded.
He was elected to Trafford Council to represent the Altrincham ward in 2014.