Banned councillor makes public apology for violent Facebook posts
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
A former councillor who was given an election ban for violent Facebook posts has made a public apology.
Phil Baguley, who stepped down from Sully and Lavernock community council last September, was recently disqualified from standing again for 15 months.
A report into the temporary ban by the Adjudication Panel for Wales revealed that Mr Baguley publicly called on Facebook for the killing of three female MPs: Yvette Cooper, Anna Soubry and Diane Abbott.
Responding to an article about Yvette Cooper, Mr Baguley said: “This b*tch is driving remain when the people of her constituency overwhelmingly voted out. A traitorous cow and I hope she ends up with a noose around her neck.”
Posting an article about Shamima Begum, a British-born woman who went to Syria aged 15 to join the Islamic State, Mr Baguley said: “I hope she does carry out some atrocity; Anna Soubry would be my chosen target.”
Commenting on a video of Diane Abbott, Mr Baguley said: “F*cking idiot! Get me a gun please.”
Now the former councillor, who originally stood by the statements, has publicly apologised for the posts and said he has “learned a valuable lesson”.
Mr Baguley said: “I would like to issue a public apology for the hurt and offence which may have been caused by the comments I made on my private Facebook page.
“Anyone who knows me will confirm I am not remotely sexist or racist. What I am is very passionate in my beliefs and I have made the mistake of making comments whilst feeling very upset about a particular issue and am now aware that my tone is aggressive and offensive.
“I can confirm wholeheartedly that I never wanted these comments to be taken literally and anyone who knows me will confirm this is the way I speak. I have learned I need to think much more about the true message that I intend to say before saying it and have learned a valuable lesson.
“Whilst I have learned a lesson I have also realised that I never want to get involved in local politics again. Once again I wish to apologise for any harm I have caused.”
The Adjudication Panel found the comments “went far beyond what could reasonably be considered to be political expression … and were inflammatory and an expression of views which were extreme, threatening in nature and promoted violence towards individuals.
“The comments could not be dignified by the description of political expression. The comments were personal, disturbing and gratuitous verbal attacks, not political expression.
“The Case Tribunal concluded that the three Facebook posts were so egregious, inflammatory and violent, that they offended against all notions of peace, safety, decency and democracy within society.”
The panel added the 15-month ban was needed to “maintain confidence in local democracy”. They said Mr Baguley was “unfit for public office” and needed to “reflect on his conduct before contemplating re-entering local politics”.