A leading councillor has been accused of defecting to the Liberal Democrat party to avoid expulsion from the Conservatives.

Cllr Gurch Singh represents St Mary's ward on the Royal Borough applied to join the Liberal Democrats this week.

A shock statement released Wednesday evening by council leader Andrew Johnson said: "I am sad to say that Cllr Singh has this evening taken the decision not to hear the conclusion of a series of investigations into his conduct, along with my recommendation as leader that he be expelled from my group with immediate effect.

"For many months Cllr Singh has been under internal investigation for a series of potential breaches for which I would sadly I need an entire rainforest of paper to document. Not only does Cllr Singh exhibit appalling judgement and acts without thinking, he has damaged public confidence and trust in elected representatives."

The 10 accusations include using a racist word in a text, submitting a 'spurious and deliberately malicious complaint' against another councillor among other more serious claims.

One accusation was that Cllr Singh suggested to colleagues that a former councillor be 'taken outside and shot' for failing to attend a planning panel although the former councillor in question was ill.

Cllr Johnson says in his statement: "Words fail me on these truly abhorrent comments."

Yesterday (Thursday) Cllr Simon Werner - the Liberal Democrat MP for Pinkneys Green, hit back, requesting that the Conservatives provide all the evidence they had to his party and the council's monitoring officer.

He said: "We are shocked they held an internal investigation rather than passing on the information to the Royal Borough's monitoring officer as they are required to do."

But he added: "If the allegations are true, we will take immediate action as there is no place for this in the Liberal Democrats."

Meanwhile Cllr Singh has spoken out too, saying: "Cllr Johnson runs the council in a dictatorial style and I was just not comfortable there. Members aren't allowed to think for themselves, there is a culture of bullying and a lot of victimisation.

"This is like a public execution - a nasty way to operate."

He said he planned to continue as a councillor as a Liberal Democrat, working with people across the political sphere.