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Hitler costume Harrogate councillor suspended

    A council leader has been suspended from the Conservative party after a photograph of him dressed as Adolf Hitler emerged on Facebook.

    Dr Mike Gardner, who was first elected in 1999 and is the leader of Harrogate Borough Council, was pictured giving a Nazi salute at a party in May.

    The Harrogate and Knaresborough Conservative Association has de-selected him and will investigate his conduct.

    Dr Gardner said the party had been themed around dressing as a figure from the year you were born. He said: "I was born in the war. Hitler was an iconic figure."

    He blamed political enemies on the picture being made public and said his “highly humorous” costume choice had not offended anybody at the party.

    "A lot of people present were members of the Armed forces. I carefully checked with them not to offend them.
    “I have not done anything wrong. I haven't broken any code of conduct."

    Dr Gardner has vowed to stay on as council leader, but will now face a Conservative opponent when his term expires in 2011.

    Earlier this year footballer Joey Barton drew criticism for doing what was interpreted as a Nazi salute at a Newcastle match.

    In August the headteacher of a Catholic primary school in Perth issued an apology after awarding a pupil dressed as the Nazi leader first prize in a fancy dress competition.

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