A respectable Tory councillor and former mayor today admitted leading a secret double life – as a leather-clad member of a violent biker gang.
Conservative Jim Mason, 61, has led a distinguished 12-year career as a cabinet member on Tewkesbury Borough Council, Glos.
But yesterday it emerged he was a member of the fearsome Outlaws Motorcycle Club, who were behind the 2007 murder of a Hells Angel on the M40 in Warwickshire.
Photographs taken in September 2009 show him posing with another tattooed member of the Outlaws Worcestershire chapter – who is sticking his middle finger up to the camera.
The Outlaws – classed as an organised crime group by police forces across the world – was formed in America in 1935 and spread to Europe, where it now has 30 chapters.
Members are bitter enemies of the Hells Angels and a series of tit-for-tat bombings, shootings and arson attacks have taken place around the world.
In 2008 seven members of the gang were jailed for the motorway drive-by killing of Gerry Tobin on the M40 after the biker’s Bulldog Bash festival a year earlier.
Members of the two gangs also clashed in the arrivals hall at Birmingham Airport in 2008.
Around 30 bikers – armed with knives, hammers and machetes – took part in the mass brawl. Seven were later convicted for their part in the riot.
In a series of pictures that emerged yesterday, the gang’s fearsome skull and crossbones logo is emblazoned across bearded Mason’s chest as he solemnly raises a glass to the camera.
In another picture, he casually chats to fellow bikers in his full leathers.
The respected councillor was even handed the mayoral chains after being voted into the prestigious post in 2003.
There is no suggestion cllr Mason has been involved in any violence, but he was believed to be a ”full patch” member of the group.
In some countries being a full patch member means taking part in a dangerous initiation ceremonies, which often involve violence.
Speaking from his home in posh Winchcombe, Glos., yesterday, Mr Mason admitted he used to be an Outlaws member but had now quit.
”All I will say is that I was a member of the Outlaws, but I am not a member anymore and haven’t been for some time,” he sad.
“I have a private life – please contact my Conservative office if you need anymore comment.”
But biker experts claim it is not easy to quit the scene – likening it to a ”war”.
Canadian Julian Sher, an expert on biker gangs, said: ”This is a very structured, disciplined, gang.
”For all the myths about the freedom of the road and the bikers being rebels, they’re in a very disciplined, tightly controlled army – an army that’s at war.
”And when you’re at war everybody’s got to do their share.”
Mr Mason, believed to be a father-of-two who lives with wife Mandy, 50, was elected to Tewkesbury Borough Council in 1999.
He is now lead member for clean and green environment portfolio as part of the ruling Conservative majority and was elected mayor of Tewkesbury in 2003.
In a statement yesterday, Tewkesbury Council’s chief executive Mike Dawson said they were sticking by Cllr Mason as he had not broken the authority’s code of conduct.
He said: ”In my experience, councillor Mason undertakes his role as a councillor in a manner that is compatible to the principles governing councillors’ conduct.”
The Conservative Party declined to comment.