A COUNCILLOR who campaigns for disabled rights has been reprimanded for circulating an 'abusive and sexist' joke from a council email address.

The Lancashire Telegraph has obtained the copy of a message sent to more than 50 people by Coun Alan Dean, Liberal Democrat, for Blackburn's Mill Hill ward.

The email titled, the Luck of the Irish, has been branded sexist and abusive, as it pokes fun at a fictious Irish man and his two daughters.

It was sent from the email address provided for him by Blackburn with Darwen Council to conduct local authority business.

Coun Dean, who has apologised, said it had been forwarded to him and he had sent it by mistake while setting up a new internet connection.

But he admitted that it was possible that treatment he was having for a serious medical condition had affected his judgement.

Coun Kate Hollern, leader of the Labour council, said: "Its totally inappropriate to be sending that type of email."

Although Coun Dean has done nothing illegal he could face disciplinary measures if he is reported to the Standards Board for England, which monitors councilllors' behaviour.

LibDem group leader Coun David Foster said his group was due to meet last night, and he would be telling all members to only use council emails for official use.

He said: "This type of thing shows an unacceptable lack of judgement. He tells me he was setting up a wireless system and it happened by accident.

"If people tell me that's what they did I have no evidence not to believe them."

"The pity about this is that he is a conscientious councillor. I would hate for people to get the wrong impression about him."

Coun Colin Rigby, leader of the Conservative opposition, said: "I can't believe he has been sending that type of abusive and sexist email around.

"It's a stupid thing to do. A councillor sending things like that does not do the area's reputation any good."

The email was sent to a fellow LibDem councillor, a member of the Regents Lions Club, and more than 50 members of the Advertising Group' - which includes Blackburn with Darwen Council staff and outside partners who process adverts.

Coun Dean has been a councillor since 2002, when he defeated Labour's Gail Barton.

He works as the co-ordinator of the Independent Living Service, at the Disability Information Centre, Mill Hill Resource Centre, Blackburn.

He has often championed disabled issues in the borough.

Coun Dean said: "I am not racist against the Irish. I have got a lot of friends who are Irish.

"I had bought a new laptop and also picked up a new wireless router. It was on the same telephone line as the council email address and got sent by accident."

When asked whether the medical treatment could have clouded his judgement he said: "The medication can affect you that way. If I have offended anybody I am sorry. I am not racist or sexist.

"It's the first time this has happened and it will definitely be the last."

Council chief executive Graham Burgess said: "This is not a matter for the council. It's a matter for the councillor involved and his political party."