Council to consider conduct complaint about ‘lying hypocrite’ ‘scum’ and ’Stanley knifing their body into slithers’ on councillor’s Facebook thread
- Credit: Archant
Council bosses will decide if a social media thread begun by Tory councillor Steve Tierney that includes the suggestion from another Facebook user that someone should be “eradicated by a slow and painful death” breaches the councillors’ code of conduct.
Other Facebook user comments on the councillor's Facebook page described the critic as "lying hypocrite scum" whilst fellow councillor Billy Rackley chipped in with 'scum'.
Cllr Aigars Balsevics, the deputy mayor of Wisbech, described the individual as a "waist (sic) of space".
Fenland Council is considering a complaint as to whether by allowing the thread to develop on Facebook, Cllr Tierney breached the code of conduct which demands "you must treat others with respect".
They are also considering whether Cllr Tierney breached the code that says "you must not bully any person" and that "you must not conduct yourself in a manner which might reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute".
Cllr Tierney, a town, district and county councillor, says he is "Conservative, free marketer, anti fake news, anti hate, anti bullying, pro liberty". Cllr Tierney is also a cabinet member for communications.
Many of Cllr Tierney's 1,000 or so Facebook friends - that include police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite -may not have been aware of who he had in his sight when he began the discussion.
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"So what do you call a person who pays not a penny in tax because they work illegally cash in hand while claiming benefits, when they bother to work at all," he began.
Cllr Tierney wrote that this person "has been squatting unwelcome in somebody else's house like a parasite for years" and is "too nice to boot them out".
He also alleged this unnamed person "spends half their life drinking then has the gall to lecture others on moral ways to live, licensing applications and 'cost to taxpayers'".
Before other comments kicked in, Cllr Tierney added: "Asking for a friend".
However within Wisbech it was obvious to whom the post was directed with one of Cllr Tierney's friends, David Gutteridge, who wrote simply: "hypocrite". Ironically Mr Gutteridge was successful in a code of conduct complaint four years ago following a private message exchange with a parish councillor.
But it is some of the more extreme comments from other users that angered the Wisbech man filed a complaint with Fenland Council.
Fearful, he says, of intimidation he has asked the council that both his name and that of the individual under fire should not be published.
Amy Brown, deputy monitoring officer, said a complaint from someone who wishes to remain anonymous can be accepted.
"In the event that a decision is taken to proceed with the complaint, information about the alleged breaches of the code and outcome sought can be sent either to me or Carol Pilson (the monitoring officer) together with a request for confidence and the reasons for this which will then be considered," she said.
The complainant said that he found it "offensive on an unbelievable scale" to discover councillors and their associates could be speaking about an individual in this way. Is the person written about in the post the complainant or is it someone else?
He felt those who had posted comments "should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves".
The complainant said many of the comments clearly identified the individual as at one point his initials were used.
One of the worst comments, he said, came from Jeggs Austin who posted: "Scumbag, leach in our society who should be eradicated by a slow and painful death, slowly Stanley knifing their body into slithers. And then putting the blood soaked pieces thru a garden shredder".
Cllr Tierney responded underneath: "Seems harsh".
Former council candidate Jamie Edwards - who used the victim's initials - called him an "an oxygen thieve (sic), a mushroom, a drain on the earth".
And Chassie Boswell suggested: "Put a bullet in there (sic) head. Problem solved."
Cllr Tierney told colleagues he cannot be held responsible "for comments others make" on his personal Facebook page.
He also explained to friends that "even the threads where other people made strong comments do not name anybody and were hypothetical".
Cllr Sam Hoy, leader of Wisbech Town Council, in an emailed response to this newspaper, said she did not "buy into the argument" that the alleged victim had been identified by Jamie Edwards on the Facebook thread, when he said &....... &............
"Even if you do I could immediately think of five people with the initials &&, IF &....... &............ was meant to represent someone.
"My understanding is this was a post about a hypothetical person and as I have said I do not think the initials used were anyone's in particular."