As the group’s founder Sahira Irshad presented a petition on knife crime, he sent the picture to the group, it said.
Maroof, who said that he was “very embarrassed” and has apologised for what he described was an “honest mistake”, has been suspended by the Labour council pending an investigation, the report said.
He said he was trying to attach a video of Irshad speaking at the meeting and instead accidentally attached the unsolicited image, which he received earlier in the day, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
He claimed that he asked for it to be deleted “within seconds” of sending it.
“This is my private phone and I receive so many things that my WhatsApp has been set up to automatically save everything in my phone’s photo file.”
“Somebody sent me this photo, it may have come in the morning, and it went into my phone’s file,” Maroof said.
He represents Nether Edge and Sharrow Ward which includes the districts of Brincliffe, Carter Knowle, Nether Edge, Sharrow Vale, and most of Banner Cross, and is one of the 28 electoral wards in the City of Sheffield, England.
“I tried to send the group a video and by mistake I pressed the wrong photo. As soon as I realised, I asked for it to be deleted as I couldn’t delete it myself. It was only there for a second,” Maroof said in his defence.
He said that he has sent an apology to the group chat.
“I sincerely apologise. I had no intention to do such a thing and to cause such disruption. I have a lot of respect for the group,” he said.
A member of the group, on condition of anonymity, said it was “absolutely disgraceful”.
Council leader Julie Dore said it was “a very serious matter” and his suspension was immediate “until we have ascertained the details”.
Maroof, who was educated in Pakistan and the UK, said the WhatsApp group was set up to empower women, the report added.