Tory councillor Andy Weatherhead has been suspended after he was pictured attending events organised by the openly fascist New British Union (NBU). Weatherhead came under fire after he was photographed wearing a black shirt surrounded by fascist symbols at far-right events.

Weatherhead, who represents Hythe West on Kent County council, has apologised stating that he attended two such events "in the spirit of education and curiosity."

He is also being investigated by his party after anti-racist campaigners Hope Not Hate said that he attended rallies organised by NBU before joining the Tories.

The group also claimed that he was a member of NBU and even delivered a speech at their inaugural conference in 2013, according to a report in The Guardian.

The BBC has also unearthed an interview from 2014 wherein he was introduced by the host as NBU's policy officer.

"I've always been an admirer of fascism. I've always been an admirer of Benito Mussolini and Sir Oswald Mosley, and last year I was trawling through the internet as one does and came across the New British Union and I thought 'hello, this sounds like right up my street', so I contacted them," he says in the interview to the American Nationalist Network.

He had given this interview under the pseudonym Andrew Blackhouse. Weatherhead has admitted that he gave the interview but denied that he was NBU policy officer.

He issued an apology for the same and said: "It was not my intent to cause harm or offend. It is in the past. I completely and utterly reject anything to do with fascism." He added that he turned his back on "fringe politics having seen it for what it truly was."

Meanwhile, Kent Conservative party whip, Dylan Jeffrey has said that they had run background checks on him but did not find any links to NBU because he had changed his name before joining the party in 2018.

He added: "He has been suspended by the national party chairman, Nadhim Zahawi, and they will conduct an investigation.

British Parliament buildings
British parliament NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images