Former councillor adjudged to have brought office into disrepute with alleged racist Facebook post
Katy Jenkins, local democracy reporter
Pembrokeshire County Council’s standards committee has ruled a former councillor breached its code of conduct by bringing his office or the local authority “into disrepute” with an allegedly racist social media post.
The committee chairman Corinna Kershaw said that there were two main factors disputed in relation to the alleged breach in June 2020 – whether Paul Dowson, the former county councillor for Pembroke Dock was acting in his capacity as a councillor when he made public comments about the Black Lives Matter movement and if he was or should have been aware that some or all of the post “was likely to be considered racist.”
An investigation and report had been carried out by the Public Services Ombudsman, with a representative present at the hearing, however this, along with a council summary report and other evidence was not included in the public agenda.
The committee went into private session at around 11.45am and returned after 4pm to state that it had been determined after consideration of “all the evidence and submissions in this matter” that there had been a breach of the code of conduct.
Mrs Kershaw said that the committee was of the view he had been acting or appeared to be acting in his capacity of councillor and was aware that some or all of the Facebook post was likely to be considered racist.
It was also stated that sections of the code relating to showing respect and consideration for others were also breached.
As he is no longer on the council the “maximum sanction” of censure was imposed but Mrs Kershaw added the committee wished to put on record that if he had been re-elected it would have been “highly likely that suspension for a period would have been a serious consideration.”
Mr Dowson was elected with a majority of four votes to represent the Pembroke Dock Central ward in 2017.
In January 2021 Mr Dowson announced he had joined UKIP and would sit as a UKIP councillor on Pembrokeshire County Council.
He failed in a bid to be re-elected in the Bush Ward in last month’s local elections.
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