Row breaks out after photo of new councillors edited to remove political badges (From East Lothian Courier)

AN OFFICIAL picture of East Lothian Council’s newly-elected councillors was removed from social media after a complaint was made over the decision to edit out party political badges.

The photograph of the 22 new councillors who took their seats at the first official meeting of the council was taken in Haddington Town House on May 23.

However, Councillor Stuart Currie, SNP Group leader, objected to the photograph after officials edited it to remove his SNP badge before it appeared on the council’s official Twitter page.

He withdrew his permission for the image to be used and it was later revealed by the council that a “small” number of councillors from two parties had their attire digitally changed to hide colours or badges associated with their political affiliations.

Mr Currie’s reaction was described as “childish” by the leader of the council.

The photograph was removed a day after it went online. Instead, the council’s Twitter feed showed a picture of an empty chamber, taken before the meeting.

A council spokesman said: “The council posted a group picture of councillors to introduce all 22 elected members to the public following the elections. A small number of councillors from two different political parties were wearing colours or badges associated with their party.

“As an impartial organisation, the council believes it is inappropriate to share party political imagery and so a decision was taken to edit these colours from the photograph.

“This, we believe, is particularly important in the run-up to a General Election. This was only a very small element of the picture and has in no way altered its meaning or intention – which is to engage with the public and residents of East Lothian.”

Mr Currie said his biggest concern had been that the picture had been altered without those involved being informed. He said the first he knew was when an SNP member asked why he had taken off his badge.

He said: “What is bizarre is that a photograph is doctored without any discussion or permission. To learn via social media that the picture has been altered is unacceptable.”

But council leader Councillor Willie Innes (Lab) criticised Mr Currie and said: “Given the statements made earlier in the day by Councillor Currie about working together, this seems a childish action, particularly given the mood of the day and events in Manchester [the terrorist attack the previous day] which had preceded the meeting and photograph.”