Posted: Sat 24th Feb 2024

Councillor in Caerphilly Censured for Controversial Social Media Post /
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Feb 24th, 2024

A Plaid Cymru councillor in Caerphilly has been censured over a controversial social media post on his personal Facebook page.
Jon Scriven posted a photograph of himself posing with what appeared to be a rifle at a beach on August 8, 2022, with the caption: “Ogmore-by-Sea tonight for a quick swim and make sure there wasn’t (sic) any English people trying to cross the channel.”
The Penyrheol ward representative ended up admitting he had committed a racially-aggravated public order offence, was suspended from his party, and the matter was referred to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW).
At a meeting of Caerphilly Council’s standards committee on Friday February 23, PSOW deputy legal adviser Annie Ginwalla said the Facebook post had sparked “a number of complaints” and led to “significant negative media attention”.
She told the committee the council’s code of conduct “applies at all times and in any capacity”.
“Members must not conduct themselves in a manner… [that] brings themselves or their office into disrepute,” Ms Ginwalla said.
The ombudsman had “concluded the post was not appropriate”, she added.
The PSOW office suggested the committee could impose a “short to medium” suspension for what Ms Ginwalla called a “reckless” incident that was “capable of undermining public confidence” in Cllr Scriven and the council.
The incident was aggravated by Cllr Scriven’s “lack of understanding” of the guidance around social media use and his “surprise” that the post “wasn’t seen as a joke”, she told the committee.
But Cllr Scriven’s conduct was mitigated by his “previous good record of service”, the incident being a “one-off”, and his cooperation with the investigation, Ms Ginwalla added.
Cllr Scriven told the committee the post had been “nothing other than an intended joke” and “nobody complained” initially until it was screenshotted and shared on Twitter.
“It’s clear I am not a racist,” he told the committee, adding he worked with “all races and colour” at his boxing club and had a close friend who was English.
“Eighteen months this has been going on for”, he said. “It’s caused a lot of pain and stress to myself and my family.”
Cllr Scriven also told the committee he had “stayed away from” social media following the incident.
After deliberations, the committee found Cllr Scriven had breached the council’s code of conduct, but members stopped short of a suspension.
They censured the councillor and recommended he have “further training” on the code of conduct and the use of social media.
Cllr Scriven has 21 days to appeal the committee’s decision, should he wish to do so. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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