Conservatives have defended selecting a candidate for the local elections who previously stood down after posting a series of offensive jokes online.

Ivan Lyons stood for election as a Tory candidate for Westbourne at the last local elections in Brighton and Hove, but resigned after jokes he had made in a Facebook group which targeted Muslims, disabled people and people who are overweight were uncovered.

Although the Conservatives “unconditionally condemned the material” at the time, Mr Lyons has been selected again to stand in the Westdene and Hove Park ward for the election in May.

The party has stood by Mr Lyons’ candidacy and praised his “local knowledge, commitment and enthusiasm”.

He will contest the ward alongside current Conservative councillor for Hove Park Samer Bagaeen and Dr Emma Hogan, who stood as the Tory candidate for Brighton Pavilion at the last general election.

A spokesman for the Brighton and Hove Conservatives said: “In the run-up to the 2019 local election, we became aware that years earlier Ivan had shared some jokes of an offensive nature on a private social media forum.

“He profusely apologised and we agreed with him that he should stand down as our candidate.

“During 2022, Ivan expressed an interest in being a candidate in the ward where he lives. He was duly chosen after our very thorough selection process.

“We are very pleased that, with his local knowledge, commitment and enthusiasm, Ivan will be one of our candidates in the upcoming elections.”

Upon being selected as a candidate for the election in May, Mr Lyons pledged to “bring the voice of Westdene residents to the city council”.

He said: “As a local businessman, I want to encourage employers to locate to our city. I am looking to improve our roads and infrastructure as the way forward.

“The council needs to stop increasing parking charges and reducing car parking spaces in the city.

“Cleaning up graffiti is high on my agenda. The council fines victims of graffiti, such as hard-working shopkeepers and businesses, but ignores graffiti blighting council property.”

Voters will go to the polls across the city and across most of Sussex on May 4.