UKIP councillor Bill Etheridge's "disgraceful" online outbursts breached Dudley Council’s members’ code of conduct, a committee has decided.

The Sedgley councillor and West Midlands MEP was the subject of a standards committee hearing on Tuesday over claims he failed to maintain the standards of dignity and respect expected of an elected member.

The hearing was called after Cllr Etheridge posted two videos on Facebook following a heated council meeting last October - in which he said the Council House should be demolished with the councillors inside.

During his rant immediately after the meeting he said: “The best thing that could happen for the people of Dudley is for this building to be demolished.

“All these phony, so-called representatives of the people, frankly I wouldn’t care if they were in it at the time it was demolished.”

He also launched an attack on the borough’s Labour group, branding them “a procession of imbeciles”, “socialist do-gooder bleeding heart Communist rat bags” and “pathetic tin pot nobodies”.

The next morning, another video was posted, which saw the Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Dave Tyler targeted by cllr Etheridge who said: “I have zero respect for the office of mayor and for the mayor himself.”

He also referred to him as “an utter disgrace, who brings shame onto his office”.

The tirades led to a number of informal complaints and one formal complaint, made by Labour group leader Councillor Pete Lowe.

An independent investigation by John Austin followed, which found cllr Etheridge had breached the members' code of conduct.

In his report, Mr Austin said cllr Etheridge had gone “way over and above what is acceptable” with his “deliberately disrespectful and scornful” comments and had “failed to value his colleagues and treat them with respect.”

However - Mr Austin did accept cllr Etheridge's comment about the Priory Road building being demolished was “tongue in cheek”, albeit “ill chosen”. He added: “I do not think it was intended as a threat in any way.”

The committee was told cllr Etheridge refused to apologise for his comments, despite being given numerous opportunities to take the ‘informal resolution route’.

Cllr Etheridge clarified this in a further Facebook video - also viewed by the committee - where he said: “I want to make it absolutely clear that I stand by every single word that I said.”

Cllr Lowe told the committee: “I am more than willing to accept - in relation to the building - that while it is a fairly poor joke, it was tongue in cheek.”

However cllr Lowe said he thought the rest of cllr Etheridge’s comments were “disgraceful”.

The committee, chaired by Councillor Michael Evans, agreed cllr Etheridge had breached the members’ code of conduct.

After deliberating, the committee decided the best course of action was to report the findings to council on April 9 and put forward a motion of formal censure to the next full council, in words to be agreed with the monitoring officer in consultation with the committee.

The committee will also recommend to council that members are required upon election to sign an undertaking that they will comply with the members’ code of conduct.

Cllr Etheridge did not attend the meeting, at Dudley Council House, telling the News beforehand: "They can go to hell. I hold the whole thing in complete contempt."

And he said afterwards: "I'm not surprised they found that. I'm fully aware I breached the code of conduct. I've done it on purpose to demonstrate my complete contempt for the system. I won't be bound by it."

He branded the matter a "most expensive bit of ego-stroking by cllr Lowe" and added: "The only punishment is a vote to censure me but they could save everyone's time. The only votes that matter to me are the votes of the public. I've no interest in their silly little rules. I'm not on any committees because of my commitments as MEP; it'll have no effect."