A councillor who was handed a suspended prison sentence for offences including the homophobic abuse of police officers has been removed from his political group – but can legally keep his seat.

Workington Magistrates’ Court sentenced Councillor Peter Little, 36, this week after the court heard how he referred to a custody sergeant as “t*** and teeth” and said he was allergic to police.

Lee Dacre, prosecuting, told the court that the custody sergeant had never been subject to such long abuse from one individual.

Cllr Little pleaded guilty on August 3.

A spokesman for Allerdale Council said: “Workington Magistrates’ Court on August 24 gave Councillor Peter Little, who represents the Maryport South ward on Allerdale Council, a suspended 12-week prison sentence.

"Section 80 of the Local Government Act 1972 provides that any custodial sentence (including suspended) of three months or more will automatically lead to disqualification.

"The authority has sought independent expert legal opinion on the position regarding Cllr Little and the advice received is that 12 weeks is a lesser term than three months, therefore Cllr Little is legally entitled to retain his seat on Allerdale Council.”

Allerdale Independent Group has confirmed that Cllr Little has now been removed as a member of the group.

Councillor Paul Scott, the group's leader, said: “As a result of a meeting held today by the Allerdale Independent Group, it has been decided to withdraw membership of the group from Councillor Peter Little as a consequence of his recent actions.

“We have made it clear the law of the land comes before anything a political group can do to punish a councillor.

“However, now the law has had its say the political group has acted accordingly.

"We consider it important that all elected officials conduct themselves within the constraints of the law.

“Peter has worked hard for his residents and I’m sure he will continue to do so.

"We wish him well on the remainder of his time as a councillor and all the best for the future.”

Defending Cllr Little, Sean Harkin had told the court: “He appears to be apologetic and ashamed of his behaviour.

"He does display genuine remorse.

“He served for his country.

"He is a councillor.

"You would expect better behaviour from someone in public office but that’s a double-edged sword.

"He contributes to his community in a positive way.”