A MONMOUTHSHIRE councillor has been accused of describing homosexuality as a “sickening and depraved practice”, a tribunal has heard.

Councillor Graham Down, who sits on Mathern Community Council, is alleged to have said that he “would not promote the hideous perversions of shirt lifters”.

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales say Cllr Down, a former Monmouthshire county councillor, breached the council’s code of conduct.

The Adjudication Panel for Wales heard that the comments were made after Cllr Down received a two-month suspension for homophobic comments in 2016.

READ MOREMonmouthshire councillor Graham Down suspended for 'unnatural' gay comments

Following the panel’s decision on July 19 last year, Cllr Down is alleged to have said at the hearing: “I cannot be part of a system that requires me to suppress my conscience.

“I will not be made to promote the hideous and sickening perversions of shirt lifters.”

This prompted a further investigation by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, who accused Cllr Down of a further breach of the code of conduct.

On August 23, it is alleged that Cllr Down sent an email to the ombudsman which read: “I believe homosexuality is a sickening and depraved practice and I shall continue to say so.”

Cllr Down, who represented Shirenewton on Monmouthshire County Council between 2012 and 2017, appeared before a tribunal at Cwmbran Magistrates' Court March 22.

South Wales Argus: Cwmbran Magistrates CourtCwmbran Magistrates Court

He said his comments at the previous tribunal were made after the hearing – and the ombudsman’s investigation – had concluded.

It was argued that what he said was protected by absolute privilege, which exempts persons from making defamatory statements during judicial proceedings.

Cllr Down also claimed that being unable to examine witnesses against him was in violation of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The tribunal heard the email came to the ombudsman’s attention as a result of a previous allegation, and that there were no further written allegations in the case.

Panel chair Richard Payne said proceedings would be adjourned to allow for the ombudsman and Cllr Down to provide further information to support their legal arguments.

“Both sides will be given the opportunity think about this more deeply rather than having it sprung upon them by the panel without warning,” he said.

If Cllr Down is found to be in breach of the code of count, he could be given a warning, a suspension of up to 12 months, or he could be disqualified from his role for up to five years.

No date has been set for the adjourned hearing.