VALE mayor and Barry Town councillor Leighton Rowlands has said he had no knowledge of being signed up to a Tory Facebook group accused of being Islamophobic and racist.

Cllr Rowlands was named as one of 25 councillors and 10 MPs who were members of the closed Facebook group, the Conservative Debating Forum which regularly publishes Islamophobic, homophobic and racist abuse.

Members are added or join with permission of administrators.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has been a target of the group’s anti-Muslim sentiments.Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller, have also been targeted.

The group has now changed its name to the Conservative Politics Society and released a statement promising to draw up “articles of conduct” followed by a review of the group’s membership to expel anyone that may have breached the new rules.

A group spokesman told the Observer newspaper that the group’s administrators had relaunched and apologised for the content.

They continued, adding that the group took its complaints procedure “incredibly seriously”.

Buttrills ward Barry Town Cllr Mark Hooper said he was “astonished” to see Cllr Rowlands named.

“The reports of Islamophobic, racist and homophobic abuse from group members have no place in civil society; and definitely no place in our local politics,” he said.

“Leighton has spoken out against prejudice in the past.

“Let’s hope he speaks out as vehemently against the hate and ignorance shown by members of this invite-only Conservative group.”

A spokesman for Cllr Rowlands said: “Leighton was added to the group, but has never taken part in any discussions in it – or engaged with it in any way.

“Clearly, offensive comments of any kind are unacceptable, and social media platforms need to come down hard on offensive posts – as well as making it more difficult for other users to be added to Facebook pages and groups without their knowledge.”

A Conservative party spokesman said: ‘Like other prominent members of the Conservative party, Cllr Rowlands has no knowledge of being signed up to the group.

“He is a prominent equal rights campaigner, he would hardly be involved in such activities.”