COUNCILLORS were "disgusted" after the former leader of Allerdale council was heard insulting and mocking the authority's mayor during a Zoom meeting.

Alan Smith, who was the leader of the Labour administration until last May, later apologised, saying he did not realise his microphone was not muted when he referred to the mayor Hilary Harrington as a "daft cow".

The clip from the full council meeting held don Tuesday has now been removed from Allerdale council's official You Tube channel, as the authority fears it would breach the platform's terms and conditions.

Moments before the insult, Mr Smith was heard swearing. The foul language was used after Mrs Harrington was having difficulties liaising with an officer, who was advising her on the need to briefly adjourn the meeting.

As Mrs Harrington turned towards the officer, she excused herself by saying: "Just a moment, there's a slight technical glitch."

At that point Mr Smith appeared on screen, laughing out loud in a mocking fashion and blurting: "She[the officer] is right beside you, you daft cow."

Seconds later, Mr Smith's expression changed to one of panic, as he realised his blunder and reached towards the screen to mute his microphone.

Both councillor George Kemp and Iain Greaney said later in the meeting that they were disgusted by Mr Smith's behaviour.

Following the adjournment Mr Smith asked to speak. He told Mrs Harrison: "It's been brought to my attention that my microphone was unmuted before we went into the adjournment, I may have made some derogatory remark.

"I would like you to accept my apology for anything you may have picked up, it was totally out of conduct for me to have my microphone unmuted, I didn't know I was unmuted. I'm sorry for what happened, take my apologies, please."

Mrs Harrington said: "Thank you councillor Smith, but I don't make remarks about people, whether I'm on mute or not, but I accept your apology."

Later in the meeting, Mr Kemp said: "I would just like to say how disgusted I am with the actions of councillor Smith, absolutely disgraceful language for a former leader of the this council. It's an absolutely disgraceful thing he has done and he should be ashamed of himself."

But Mrs Harrington told Mr Kemp she had accepted Mr Smith's apology with graciousness and she wanted to continue the meetings in that fashion. She added: "Can we please continue with the motion on the floor before I'm in tears."

Mr Greaney said he believed the meeting should have been closed after the incident.

Complaints were received by Allerdale council on the matter.

Mrs Harrington declined to comment further on the matter when approached by the News & Star.

Mr Smith did not respond to a request for comment.

On the removal of the clip, a council spokesman said: "The specific clip from last night's council meeting has been removed from the YouTube recording because it was felt it could potentially put the council in breach of YouTube's terms and conditions, as has been the case with similar incidents at other councils."