A SENIOR councillor who was suspended after a row on Facebook has spoken out about the late-night exchange after being cleared of all charges.

In January, Walthamstow councillor Peter Barnett was suspended from the Waltham Forest Labour group pending an investigation into an exchange with fellow Labour councillor Shabana Dedhi.

The social media spat began when Cllr Dedhi posted quotes from the Prophet Mohammed and Cllr Barnett asked “what the **** does that mean?’.

He was suspended in the following days.

But, six months on, he has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

 “This all began back in January because of an exchange with someone who I considered to be a Facebook friend,” Cllr Barnett said.

“What I was referring to was a long diatribe, not the small part that has been seen.

“What I expected Cllr Dedhi to do was say ‘shut up you silly old sold’ and that would be it.

“But, I was called in and suspended by the leader pending an investigation.

“What I expected was an investigation which would take two or three days but instead it went on and on and on.

“I found it really bizarre, actually.

“But I want to make it clear – I was not suspended for six months. I was cleared of all charges. I was cleared of racism, I was cleared of Islamophobia.”

During the exchange on January 21, Cllr Dhedi posted: “The Prophet (saw) said: ‘A time will come to mankind when man will not care whether what he gets comes from a lawful or an unlawful source’.” 

Cllr Barnett responded after 1am by posting: “what the **** does that mean?

When Cllr Dhedi explained the quote related to immoral earnings, Cllr Barnett hit back by saying: “‘shame the prophet can’t speak clearly, still he’s always got you to explain’.

Labour’s Len Duvall carried out the investigation, finding “no case to answer”.

 “I shouldn’t have said the F on Facebook. For that, I apologised immediately. I shouldn’t have sworn,” Cllr Barnett continued.

“I’m working on my east London dialect not getting me in trouble anymore.

“But none of it was supposed to offend anyone.”

Cllr Barnett, formerly chair of the planning committee is looking forward to getting back to work.

He added: “I also want to let people know why I was on social media at that time of day.

“My daughter had a nasty accident when she was kicked by a horse so my wife and I were up all hours feeding her through straws and looking after her.

“It wasn’t because I was up drinking or anything like that.

 “I am a councillor and I am always working for the people I represent. I am looking forward to getting back to being there for the people of Wood Street ward.

“I was quite impressed with myself at my age getting on Facebook – and then I fell flat on my face.”