COMMENTS made on Facebook about Syrian refugees by a Torfaen councillor are ‘inflammatory and discriminatory’ says the county's assembly member.

Cllr Mike Harris, of the Pontypool ward, posted comments in the Torfaen Matters Facebook group, labelling some of the refugees who have entered the UK ‘rapefugees’.

The AM for Torfaen, Lynne Neagle, has raised an official complaint with the council, which is currently being pursued.

She said: “Mike Harris' use of the term 'rapefugees' to describe people fleeing persecution is completely unacceptable.

“This inflammatory and discriminatory language is even more disturbing given that he has the responsibility of chairing the Safer Communities Committee in Torfaen - a position he has now brought into disrepute.”

Last month, Cllr Harris was announced as the chairman of the safer communities overview and scrutiny panel, and will chair a meeting today (Wednesday), with an item on the agenda on hate crime.

“I have made a formal complaint to the council's monitoring officer and I also call on the leader of the Independent Group in Torfaen to distance himself publicly from Cllr Harris' remarks and to remove him as chair,” added Ms Neagle.

Cllr Harris said that the comments he made on Facebook related to incidents in Northumbria where sexual assaults had allegedly been carried out by Syrian refugees.

He added that further down the threads within the Facebook group he explained that it was his view that not all refugees are rapists.

“They are not a true refugee, a genuine refugee,” said cllr Harris.

“I will say it again. Not all rapists are refugees and not all refugees are rapists. That is quite clear and that is common sense.”

Earlier this year, it was confirmed by Torfaen council that two families from Syria had been housed in the borough, with four further families expected to arrive.

Cllr Harris added that his comments were directed at the incidents which happened in the north and in Europe, and did not relate to the situation in Torfaen.

“I have the right to call them rapefugees or rapists and show them no respect whatsoever for what they’ve done in Northumbria,” he said.

“This is just one small case that has been highlighted. Maybe there are others that we don’t know about.”

“There were certainly 1900 that we knew about on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Berlin and other major cities in Germany and across Europe,” added cllr Harris.

One of the comment put on Facebook through cllr Harris’ profile read: “One of these rapefugees entered through our government policy. The same policy adopted and welcomed by Torfaen council … without a public or council vote!”

The other read: “Rapefugees or BREXIT,” with both comments posted in response to articles posted on the BBC and Daily Mail websites respectively.

The Pontypool ward councillor also defended his position as the chairman of the safer communities, saying his comments have no bearing on his new position.

“With my new role with the council, it has no bearing,” he said.

“I’m chairing a meeting on this very emotive topic which is on hate crime. This is a very, very serious and one that I’m really engaged in.”

Nick Thomas-Symonds, the MP for Torfaen said: “These comments on social media are offensive and outrageous.

“Elected representatives should be seeking to foster an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, trying to unite people, not to divide them."

A council spokesman said: “The monitoring officer has received complaints regarding an alleged breach of the councillor’s code of conduct in regard to comments made on Facebook.

“Individual councillors are responsible for their comments and postings on social media. They are subject to a code of conduct, aspects of which apply to a councillor even when he/she is not acting on council business.

“Complaints that a councillor may have breached the code should be made to the Ombudsman online at The Ombudsman will then decide whether or not to investigate,” he added.