MALDON District Council’s annual meeting has been postponed to allow councillors to resolve the results of a damning report into its leader’s “throat-slit” gesture and “hello sailor” comment.

At a heated virtual council meeting on Thursday, council leader Adrian Fluker was outvoted after some of his Conservative councillors joined forces with the opposition independent group.

The meeting followed on from the publication of a report into the “throat-slit” gesture and “hello sailor” comment made by Mr Fluker at a meeting in September.

The report, which cost more than £50,000 to compile, accuses councillors sitting on the standards board of the council of predetermining Mr Fluker had “not failed to comply with the Members Code of Conduct” and “no further action needs to be taken”.

The issues relating to the investigation were sparked by complaints from independent councillors Chrissy Morris, Wendy Stamp and Carlie Mayes against Mr Fluker for making the gesture and saying “hello sailor” to another councillor.

The first complaint alleged Mr Fluker made a “throat-cut” gesture to councillors Richard Siddall and Jane Fleming, who had just abstained in a vote, which could be seen as bullying and disrespectful behaviour.

The second complaint, raised by Mr Morris, alleged Mr Fluker had breached the council’s members code by directing a homophobic comment towards Mr Siddall when he said “hello sailor” to him.

Mr Fluker has since said he meant the gesticulation as a signal to “stop and move on” and stated he made the “hello sailor” comment without being aware of the connotations it had or that it would cause offence.

Afterwards he contacted Mr Siddall and apologised for any offence which may have been taken from his comment, but the apology was not accepted.

Following complaints surrounding the standards meeting into his behaviour, Simon Quelch, monitoring officer at Maldon District Council, appointed Melvin Kenyon to investigate the conduct of councillors Bob Boyce, Bryan Harker and Sue White.

Mr Kenyon has concluded there was a predetermination from Ms White and Mr Harker and said “they conducted themselves in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing their office or the authority into disrepute”.

He also found Mr Boyce did not demonstrate predetermination but did conduct himself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office or the authority into disrepute.

At Thursday’s council meeting Mr Fluker called to reset the council as soon as possible, but was defeated, with the meeting pushed back until the Autumn.

At the meeting he said: “The fairest way for councillors to get what they want is for us to hold a statutory annual and or councillors to vote on who they want to be the council leader. We cant wait eight weeks, we need to get this moving.”

But he was defeated by 19 votes to two with six councillors abstaining.

Former leader Mark Durham said: “Having just seen the report I am very shocked at the contents of it. This report clearly shows members have brought themselves and the authority into disrepute.

“This may well be the basis of an additional complaint. Clearly there are some outstanding matters regarding one or more members.

“Although I believe a statutory annual would be important to hold I fail to see how we can push a statutory annual meeting of this authority while there are still outstanding matters revolving around one or more members.”

The meeting followed the news three councillors had quit the Conservative group. Chairman Bob Boyce, Michael Helm and Richard Dewick have all left the group, meaning the Conservatives now have 14 councillors.