Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling on the leader of Kingston Council to resign after he called a 17-year-old sixth former an “appalling little child”.

James Giles, a community activist and pupil at Coombe Sixth Form, attended a council meeting last week and reportedly asked the leader if his son’s new job was a “conflict of interest” for a councillor.

Cllr Davis’ son was recently hired at CNM Estates, a prominent developer with numerous builds in the borough, including Tolworth Tower and Gala Bingo Hall.

The young campaigner then tweeted what he said happened: “Leader of the council’s son is now a trainee development manager at CNM Estates, one of Kingston’s major developers.

“Conflict of interest? CNM also a client of Cratus.

“When asked over conflict of interest tonight, Davis refused to answer.”

Cllr Davis co-founded PR firm Cratus, on whose website CNM is listed as a client, and when he was elected in 2014 concerns were raised about whether it was a conflict of interest.

In response, the council leader said the company would no longer do “any work” for CNM.

On Cratus’ website, a statement read: “In line with our company policy and desire to prevent any conflict of interest we will honour existing commitments, but will no longer accept any more work in connection with the Royal Borough.”

On the leader's Linkedin, it states he worked at Cratus from 2009 to 2015.

After Mr Giles wrote the tweet over the weekend, Cllr Davis decided to respond.

He said: “What an appalling little child you are.

“Who the hell do you think you are dragging my family into your vile conspiracy stories?

“I would hope that when you grow up you might realise how disgusting this is, sadly I doubt it.”

Since being published, the tweet has been described as “appalling”, “unprofessional” and “inexcusable” from the leader of a council.

Cllr Davis appeared to respond further on Facebook. After calling Mr Giles “vile”, he wrote: “I did not refuse to answer. I wasn't give the opportunity as the chair if the meeting rules it was nothing to do with the matter under discussion.”

The petition calling on Cllr Davis to resign had received 580 signatures at the time of writing.

Sharron Sumner, who launched the petition, said she did so “as a local mother and someone who has fought against bullying” most of her life.

Mr Giles described the leader’s tweet as “unacceptable” and “entirely abhorrent”.

He said: “All I did was ask a simple question, and the fact that he refused to answer and resorted to abuse is disgusting.

“You cannot refer to anybody, let alone a minor as ‘vile’ or an ‘appalling little child’.

“It is unacceptable.”

Mr Giles added: “Councillor Davis is bullying someone for attempting to get involved in local democracy in action - this is beyond the pale.

“I didn’t throw abuse at anyone - and I absolutely condemn the response that has been given.

“This is of course not the first time Councillor Davis has lost his temper online - this is the same man who once tweeted ‘don’t upset the people in power’ to a residents’ group protesting against overdevelopment.

“He has embarrassed his office completely and insulted the residents of Kingston.

“Enough is enough, it now really is time for Cllr Davis to resign.”

Kingston Council has declined to comment, while Cllr Davis has not responded to requests for comment.