James Malliff
James Malliff Wycombe Council

A senior Tory councillor has been suspended after suggesting that the government "may as well legalise marriage with animals" in response to David Cameron's support over same-sex marriage.

Conservative Party chiefs took immediate action against James Malliff, a member of the Tory-controlled Wycombe council in Buckinghamshire, who sent the offending Twitter message.

The tweet read: "There is no doubt the PM is wrong on this issue. We may as well legalise marriage with animals, crude I concede but no apology.''

He then followed it up with another tweet which said: "Great keynote address by David Cameron, not sure about legalising gay marriage though, what happened to sanctity of marriage - odd."

The tweets have since been deleted.

NHS Hospitals Failing To Properly Care For Elderly Patients

"These comments are completely unacceptable. Councillor Malliff's local party association has suspended him with immediate effect," said a party spokesman said.

Malliff later released a statement to the Press Association in which he admitted his comments were "ill-conceived and crude."

"I am deeply, deeply sorry for the offence I have caused," he said. "I was not intending to be offensive. It was much more a comment to try to establish where we draw the line on these things.

"My comment was there is no doubt the PM has got this wrong and you may as well legalise marriage with animals.

"It sounds terrible now but it was not meant to be anti-gay. I am not anti-gay and I respect people's views on this issue.

"The comments were ill-conceived and crude but I want to know where we are going on this, it needs to be discussed."

The tweet was a response to an online article written by former Conservative MP Paul Goodman, who had asked whether legalising gay marriage could lead to multiple sharia marriages being made lawful.