THE Labour group spokesman for 'Stronger Communities' in Bolton has defended her decision to share a social media post by Britain First by saying she had not heard of the far-right group.

Cllr Anna-Marie Watters has now deleted the post from January 14 calling for a total ban on halal food in schools.

The Bolton News understands that the post, which linked to the Britain First website, was the subject of a number of complaints, one of which is being investigated by the local Labour group.

Now, Cllr Watters claims she did not know the nature of the organisation behind the post when she shared it on her personal Facebook account.

She said: “Let’s face it – there are that many organisations that set themselves up as political parties. It’s impossible to go into every single one of them. We have four ‘First’ groups in Bolton. None of them are far-right groups as far as I’m aware.

“People have turned this into something that it isn’t. I’ve got many, many Asian friends and none of them have made any comments about that post.

“That post had been there for nearly three weeks. Had someone said, ‘were you aware of Britain First?’, I would have removed that post without any hesitation whatsoever.”

The Westhoughton representative, who is the shadow cabinet member for Stronger Communities, was responsible for the communities portfolio at Bolton Council until Labour lost power in May.

Cllr Watters was asked whether she supports the message of the post and would want halal food to be banned from schools.

She said: “It wasn’t about halal food, it was purely about animal welfare. I think people should be given a choice. I don’t have any issue with halal food.

“There’s nothing wrong about having conversations about this topic. It doesn’t make you a racist. I just care about the treatment of animals.”

Labour group chief whip Cllr Hamid Khurram confirmed that he is investigating the matter.

He said: “The Labour Party has its own procedures for disciplinary action. I can confirm there has been a complaint made against her about that post. I’m dealing with it currently according to our procedure.

“We have to investigate the matter first. We have to see what she has to say. Only then can I recommend anything.

“I want to make clear that the Labour Party has zero tolerance for any sort of racism.”