Copeland Mayor, Mike Starkie, has been heavily criticised on social media after a photograph emerged of the Conservative Mayor appearing to be sitting with a group of eight men in the Harbour Master public house in Whitehaven.
Covid social distancing rules dictate that groups should contain no more than six individuals.
Mayor Starkie said the scene depicted in the photo was easily explained, with everyone sat at "two different tables."
He said: "I was in the Harbour Master in Whitehaven where I had a pre-arranged meet-up with four friends.
"We sat at the same table for the duration of our stay as directed. No third party ever joined us at the table and Covid rules were followed by myself, my friends and the establishment for the entire time.
"A separate party did occupy the adjacent, distanced table. Coincidentally – although not untypical in a town the size of Whitehaven - I knew members of that party and we exchanged pleasantries, but at no time did our groups merge, no furniture was moved, and I believe the other group was still in situ when I left.
"The fact is that myself and my four friends adhered to all the Covid rules, and as long as it remains within the rules, I will continue to support our local hospitality industry.
"I am sadly used to people making unfounded allegations against me – often to score political points - but people should consider the potential damage they could do to a local business before jumping to irresponsible false accusations. This pandemic is beyond politics at any level, it saddens me that that I, a local business and the pandemic have been used in this way, therefore I will not engage further on these irresponsible and untrue accusations."
The landlord of the Harbour Master pub responded to the furore by saying: "There is a picture circulating implying we allowed a party of eight people. Anyone that knows us as a business or personally would know we would not allow this.
"The table in question was infact two.
"Completely different parties entered the premises separately, nearly an hour apart.
"The image shows what looks to be two tables together and because of the angle it looks closer than it is. Just to clear this up please see both images.
"We strive everyday to ensure our guests safety and that is our number one priority through these uncertain times."
Abby Pearson, the woman who took the photo, said it was "supposed to be a joke" and she did so, to "get a laugh out of my leftie mates".
Parallax is a displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight.