A Bradford councillor has said he is “not proud” after a photograph which appears to depict him holding a rocket-propelled grenade launcher was sent to the Telegraph & Argus.

Coun Amir Hussain (Lab, Toller), executive member for health and social care, said he believed the picture was taken 20 years ago when he was on a charitable trip to Afghanistan – before his time on Bradford Council.

The photograph also shows two guns apparently propped up against a wall next to him. It was not a picture he had in his own possession, he said, and he has never published it on a website.

It comes after the Labour party last week drew attention to a photograph on Facebook showing Respect Party candidate Asif Khan holding a gun. It was said to have been taken on an aid mission to Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan in 2002.

Respect MP for Bradford West George Galloway said: “Respect was vehemently attacked by the Labour party after they made public a Facebook photograph of one of our candidates with a rifle on a dangerous aid mission in Afghanistan. Labour claimed he was unsuitable to stand for office. What will Labour say or do now about Councillor Hussain?

“It would be completely hypocritical of them if they don't immediately suspend him and demand that he steps down from the Council.”

Coun Hussain said he had been on a trip to Afghanistan 20 years ago, as a local businessman, to distribute funds raised as part of a Bradford radio appeal.

“I would like to apologise for this photo,” he said. “It is not something I am proud of, and it is not the sort of image that sets a good example to young people in Bradford.

“That said, it is a photo which was taken around 20 years ago by a friend who I understand has recently joined Respect. I have never owned a copy of this photo, far less paraded it on any social media site and would never consider such behaviour as acceptable.

“I am extremely sorry for any offence this photo causes and would like to stress my opposition to firearms of any sort and the need for the gun crime problems Bradford suffers to be confronted and dealt with.”

A Bradford Labour Party spokesman said: “Amir has apologised for this photo which he never wanted to be in the public domain and had forgotten existed. He understands and regrets the offence this sort of picture may cause.

“His contrition is in stark contrast to the reaction of Respect and their candidate Asif Khan last week when a similar photo of him came to light – unlike us, they still seem to think there is nothing wrong with such photos.”