A COUNCILLOR has been expelled from the Conservative Party for making a sick joke about missing Madeleine McCann.

Richard Lowe has apologised for “inappropriate” comments on the Facebook website in response to boasts by fellow Conservative Matt Lewis about dressing up as Madeleine for a New Year’s Eve party.

Cllr Lowe, who represents City ward on the new Cheshire West and Chester Council, wrote on the social networking site: “Is this a cunning (Baldrick style) plan to obtain the reward money? Room for one more?”

Madeleine was three when she disappeared on holiday in Portugal in May 2007. Cllr Lowe, who lives in Vicars Cross, said this week his remark was “wholly inappropriate for anyone to make, let alone for an elected politician”.

He added: “The off-the-cuff comment was something I clearly did not think about.

“May I take this opportunity to apologise to the residents of Cheshire West and Chester. Finally, I offer my most sincere apologies to the parents and family of Madeleine McCann for not treating her disappearance with the compassion and understanding it so clearly deserves.”

Cllr Mike Jones, Conservative leader of the council, confirmed the whip had been withdrawn from Cllr Lowe. But he suspected that providing he “behaved reasonably in future” there would be a “way back for him”.

“Young men make mistakes,” he said. “He’s only about 21 or 22. He’s a young man who’s just got married and I think he’s got a bright future. I think he’s learned a very hard lesson.”

It was last May that Cllr Lowe was elected to the new council, which takes power on April 1, to represent City ward alongside Cllr Max Drury who later resigned as a Conservative after being found guilty of harassing a former business partner. But Cllr Jones denied there was a problem within his ranks.

Labour city councillor Bob Rudd, who stood for City ward but was rejected by the electorate, has called for the resignation of both Cllr Drury and Cllr Lowe as councillors. He described Cllr Lowe’s comments as “sick”.

He added: “It might be sour grapes but it doesn’t appear the Conservative Party can find people who are fit and proper. If I’m accused of sour grapes I will stand by that.”