Labour councillor Jools Heselwood has apologised for claiming on Facebook that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is only in hospital as “a publicity stunt”.
The Bramley and Stanningley ward councillor was replying to a post on the social media site and said:
“It’s a publicity stunt – they we’re [sic] doing badly being criticised for their handling of this, next thing he’s in hospital in ICU-a publicity stunt fir [sic] sympathy and to change the narrative. Don’t fall for it.”
One commenter replied, saying:
“With a comment like that, you’re not fit to be a councillor for any party!”
Cllr Heselwood replied:
“I just understand politics- Abd [sic] I’m out there in the community I represent, delivering food parcels, getting food parcels fir [sic] older people self isolating. So doing my job.
“My father died of pneumonia six years ago whilst battling cancer – what was Johnson and his give doing then? Removing the funding that was helping to keep my dad alive- so forgive me for being cynical.”
The comments were first covered on right-wing political blog Guido Fawkes this afternoon.
Since then, Cllr Heselwood has removed her comments from Facebook and issued an unreserved apology and written to the leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake to say:
“I am deeply sorry for my crass and offensive comments about Boris Johnson’s hospital treatment.
“I was wrong, I should never have made that claim and I apologise unreservedly.
“I wish the Prime Minister a speedy recovery and my thoughts are with him and his family at what I know is a very difficult time for them.”
A Labour party spokesperson added in a statement:
“Leeds City Council is working round the clock in one of the country’s largest districts to respond to this global public health crisis.
“All Labour councillors are doing what they can to keep services running, keep people safe and support their communities.
“Julie Heselwood fully accepts her post was wrong and has apologised unreservedly for it.”
Boris Johnson’s health continues to improve in hospital, Downing Street told the BBC this afternoon after the PM spent his third night in intensive care.
Mr Johnson was taken to hospital on Sunday – 10 days after testing positive – and was moved to intensive care on Monday.