A Sandwell Labour councillor has been forced to remove an image of David Cameron "blacked up" as a minstrel after it sparked a deluge of complaints that it was racist.
Bob Piper, a councillor for the Abbey ward, said the picture was meant to be satirical. But last night the leader of Sandwell Council said the image had "overstepped the mark" and the Conservative Party called for it to be taken down.
Mr Piper said the image was a reference to the Conservative Party's online Sort it Out anti-debt campaign, which features a very tanned promotional character.
Mr Piper's website showed Mr Cameron asking: "Is it because I's black?" It also portrayed him as saying: "Take the Homeboy Test".
Dr Derrick Campbell, chief executive of Race Equality Sandwell, said: "It's a very offensive image to black people."
Bill Thomas, leader of Sandwell Council, said: "I think it overstepped the mark."
Grant Shapps, one of the Conservative Party's vice chairmen, and MP for Welwyn Hatfield, said the party may take its complaint to the Commission for Race Equality. At about 6.30pm last night Coun Piper removed the picture, claiming there was no intention to offend the black community.
On his blog he commented: "There was an intention to offend the Conservative leadership . . . and by the appearance of things they were certainly wound up.
"But . . . when I see Derrick Campbell, chief executive of Race Equality Sandwell on the BBC website say he thought it offended black people, I am obliged to listen. Derrick is a good man who I have worked with in the past and I respect his opinions and judgment."
He said comments from vociferous Conservatives were "like water off a duck's back" to him, "but if the image and words on my site have offended black people, no matter how unintentional, then I apologise unreservedly to them."
* After Sion Simon's attempt at spoofing David Cameron, should politicians leave the comedy to comedians? Give us your opinion at the messageboards.