AN MP says the community has been “robbed of a truly decent man” following the news that a sea search for a missing Hove man has been scaled down.

Hove and Portslade MP Peter Kyle paid tribute to Gareth Jones after Sussex Police confirmed they had seen CCTV footage which appeared to show the 69-year-old being swept out to sea along with his dog, Connie, on Saturday.

Mr Jones was an active Labour Party member, and had frequently campaigned in support of his MP.

Mr Kyle told The Argus: “I’ve known Gareth since long before I became an MP and knew him as a highly principled, caring man.

“He showed me great kindness and support, and we spent many hours together campaigning across our community.

"But I also enjoyed bumping into him at his beach hut, where you’d find him on a summer’s day happily surrounded by the family he adored.

“This terrible tragedy has robbed our community of a truly decent man and I’m deeply saddened by it, the Jones family are in my thoughts.”

The Argus: Gareth JonesGareth Jones

Gareth Jones from Hove was reported missing on Saturday afternoon, sparking a huge operation in which emergency teams scoured the Brighton and Hove shoreline into the early hours of yesterday morning.

Police, coastguard, lifeboat crews and volunteers resumed the search at first light, but to no avail.

Shortly after 4.30pm, Sussex Police announced the search had been scaled back after officers were shown CCTV footage which appeared to show Gareth being swept into the sea, alongside his brown cockapoo Connie.