CODE : Promotion of equality & respect
CODE - Referred to Standards Committee/APW
Pembroke Dock Town Council
The Ombudsman received a complaint that a Former Member of Pembroke Dock Town Council (“the Council”) had failed to observe the Code of Conduct for Members of the Council. It was alleged that the Former Member had published a post on the social media platform Facebook, which could be considered racist and could have the potential to damage the reputation of the Council.
The Ombudsman’s investigation established that the Former Member had “liked” and “shared” the Facebook post, and that there had been a short delay before he took the post down. The investigation found that the Former Member had misled a local newspaper by stating that his Facebook account had been “hacked”, but had corrected this within 48 hours. It also found that the Former Member resigned as a member of the Council and was interviewed by police, who took no further action.
The Former Member said that he had not recognised the racist overtones when he shared the post, and was not a racist person. He apologised for any offense he might have caused. The Former Member accepted that he had the opportunity to attend Code of Conduct training which would have included training on equality issues. He had not attended, due partly to his disability, but accepted that he had not requested training in a manner more accessible to him.
The Ombudsman determined that the Former Member may have breached the Council’s Code of Conduct, in particular, paragraphs 4(a) and 4(b), as he may have failed to have due regard to the principle of equality of opportunity for all people while carrying out his duties, and may not have shown due respect and consideration for others. The Ombudsman also found that the Former Member’s actions could reasonably be regarded as behaviour which might bring the office of member, or the Council itself into disrepute, which may amount to a potential breach of paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct.
The Standards Committee of Pembrokeshire County Council determined that the Former Member had breached paragraphs 4(b) and 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct. The Former Member was given a censure.