A COUNCILLOR has apologised after his tweets about the London riots landed him in hot water.

Labour councillor Aaron Kiely was accused of attempting to justify the riots, and spreading unconfirmed rumours of disturbances on the social networking site Twitter, by a leading Tory councillor.

The tweet which caused the most concern was this on August 6: “Difficult to dismiss people at these protests as 'violent thugs' - there are huge and complex problems with poverty and police racism.”

Cllr Kiely also speculated about disturbances caused by rioters in some of his posts, such as: "Barking station closed on c2c due to 'civil unrest' heard Grays in Thurrock may be affected?”

And: “Hearing a Sainsbury's depot in has been set alight? Is that true? Whereabouts?”

Conservative group leader, Cllr Phil Anderson, called the tweets “inflammatory and unhelpful”.

He said: "Local councillors from all the political parties have been co-operating well together over the last 48 hours to ensure that people in Thurrock have accurate information and the council fulfils its role alongside the police and fire services.

“We had agreed that we would not use these events to try and make a political argument, so I'm disappointed that Cllr Kiely seems to want to use the situation to pursue his own rather extreme political agenda.

“His comments are inflammatory and unhelpful, and by spreading unconfirmed rumours of local disturbances he is making himself part of the problem rather than the solution."

Cllr Kiely, ward member for Ockendon, has since condemned the riots.

He said: "I apologise wholeheartedly for my comments. There is no excuse for the violence and vandalism we have seen, it is disgraceful criminal behaviour which I condemn.

"I pay tribute to the police officers who have worked around the clock to restored law and order. I also praise the efforts of Essex Police in making sure the streets of Thurrock remain safe for residents."

Labour group deputy leader, Val Morris Cook, added: “My position and that of the Labour group is that we condemn the criminal activities of rioters, we fully support the efforts of the police to restore public order."