Labour has launched a formal inquiry after decade-old photos emerged of a St Helens councillor appearing to be dressed up as Adolf Hitler at a fancy dress fundraiser.
Coun Seve Gomez-Aspron can be seen in the photos – which were taken before he joined St Helens Council in 2012 – dressed as a German soldier along with various Nazi symbols, including a swastika.
The Newton-le-Willows councillor said the outfit was inspired by ‘The Producers’, a satirical comedy film that famously lambastes fascism.
Coun Gomez-Aspron, 33, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service this was a “clumsy decision” and has “sincerely apologised” for his actions.
However it is understood a formal investigation will now take place by the national arm of the Labour Party.
The photos were taken at a themed fancy dress fundraising dinner around 2009 in aid of Claire House Children’s Hospice, which supports seriously and terminally ill children.
Coun Gomez-Aspron said he was part of a group who dressed up in outfits inspired by ‘The Producers’ in support of their friend, who had recently come out as gay.
“The photo is from around 2009 in my very early 20s, before I was a Labour Party member or councillor, at a charity dinner fundraising for a hospice for terminally ill children,” Cllr Gomez-Aspron said.
“The fancy dress theme was ‘music and musicals’ and I and the group I was with dressed as German soldiers from the film ‘The Producers’ by Mel Brooks.
“Anyone familiar with the film will know how the plot condemns and ridicules fascism throughout.
“The photo would have been taken on the night and has cut out the group of people who I was with who were dressed as other characters from the same film.
“That’s the context of it. The spirit of the film was very much the spirit of the fancy dress.”
Coun Gomez-Aspron said members of the group made a “conscious decision” to wear German Army uniforms rather than Nazi uniforms, which are brown.
However, the rented fancy dress costume features numerous Nazi symbols, such as a swastika, the SS death’s head insignia and the Parteiadler – the emblem of the Nazi Party.
It is understood Coun Gomez-Aspron has apologised to the Labour Party after they were made aware of the costume.
“I have matured and learnt a lot since then, and it goes without saying that I would not do this now,” Coun Gomez-Aspron said.
“I know how this could be seen as insensitive and how it could cause hurt and offence. That was not at all my intention and I sincerely apologise.
“I have part Jewish ancestry and I recently visited Israel to commemorate those killed in the Holocaust and the war.
“As someone with family who fled fascism in Spain, and having received abuse about my heritage, I absolutely do not take these issues lightly.
“It was a clumsy decision a decade ago and I own it entirely.
“I can only reassure you that it wasn’t intended to cause offence, and I’m sorry if it has.”
Labour said it is unable to comment on individual cases due to confidentiality and data protection issues.