Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Major scandal as Welsh Ombudsman’s head of investigations wrote ‘F*** the Tories’

29 Mar 2024 6 minute read
Welsh Conservative Shadow Local Government Minister Sam Rowlands

Martin Shipton

The head of investigations at the Welsh Ombudsman’s office is herself under investigation for breaching impartiality rules following a series of social media postings including one in which she wrote: “F*** the Tories”.

Nation.Cymru has already reported that an inquiry is underway into a senior employee since the office was contacted about the postings earlier this week.

We have now established that the employee concerned is Sinead Cook, the Ombudsman’s Investigations Team Manager – a fact that raises major concerns about the running of the office and whether past complaints have been handled fairly.

Ms Cook, who has worked for the Ombudsman’s office for nearly a decade, has now disabled the Twitter / X account she ran under the pseudonym @SweetlittleSewandsew. She also posted messages using the aliases Schnade Cee and Smoogi Cookster.

‘Bonkers’

Using her @SweetlittleSewandsew account, Ms Cook wrote: “While we are all debating what GL [Gary Lineker] said in talking about the boycott of MOTD [Match of the Day], we are not talking about the fact the Government is trying to pass a Bill which is incompatible with the Human Rights Act and morally reprehensible. F*** the Tories [spelt out].”

Other posts by Ms Cook include a response to someone who had written: “Seeing far too many Vote Conservative signs for my liking. How can anyone with a conscience still vote for them?”. @SweetlittleSewandsew said: “I’ve come to the conclusion that people are just too stubborn to admit they were wrong, so double down. It’s bonkers.”

Responding to a post from Bridgend Tory MP Jamie Wallis in which he said: “I am actively seeking a seat elsewhere with a sense of humour and a philosophical view, @SweetlittleSewandsew wrote: “If the people of Bridgend didn’t have a sense of humour, he would never have been elected. He’s a joke.”

Other tweets by @SweetlittleSewandsew that show political bias include:

* Gimme an E, gimme an N, gimme a T, gimme an I, gimme a T, gimme an L, gimme an E, gimme a D, what does it spell Boris Johnson;

* @jeremycorbyn as leader of @UKLabour is an honest return to party roots and offers a genuine alternative to @Conservatives:

* [During lockdown]. People in Wales can still go out. Instead of worrying about Wales speak to your Tory buddies about feeding kids in England;

* [Referring to former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell]. She’s a Tory Stan. Geri has always been an awful human being. She was spouting Tory nonsense back in the 90s. She and Posh were anti Europe (although I think a remainer now) and royalist.

In her various guises Ms Cook was critical of the Bridgend County Independents group on the county borough council.

Two comments relate to former Senedd Member Neil McEvoy. One, a message to former Cardiff Labour councillor Siobhan Corria shortly after Mr McEvoy lost his Senedd seat, said: “I hope NM gets the message and decides to foxtrot Oscar.” [f*** off].

The other, also to Ms Corria, referred to Mr McEvoy’s political party as Repel instead of Propel, adding: “They got 600 votes in Bridgend which is 600 to [sic] many IMO.”

‘Prejudicial attitude’

Welsh Conservative Shadow Local Government Minister Sam Rowlands said: “It is deeply concerning that someone of such seniority in the Ombudsman’s office should display such a prejudicial attitude. For many people, the Ombudsman is the port of last call, and it is vital that the office conducts itself with dignity, respect and fairness.

“In these circumstances, the Welsh Government may have to insist that the Ombudsman trawls through past cases to ensure that they have been dealt with fairly. I am aware of concerns that some non-Labour councillors appear to have been treated harshly while Labour councillors have had complaints against them dismissed without an investigation.”

Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies said: “So far as I can see, no one can have confidence in the impartiality of the Ombudsman’s office. While the behaviour of the individual concerned is wholly reprehensible, others in the office must clearly have been aware of what was going on. The Ombudsman’s office as it exists should be dismantled, and something new put in its place.

“I’m aware that recently a Labour councillor in Monmouthshire who is the party’s general election candidate had a stall at Monmouth Comprehensive School at a careers fair in which she was canvassing for votes. This was wholly out of order, but when a Conservative councillor complained to the Ombudsman, the complaint was dismissed without an investigation.”

Sean Aspey is an Independent member of Bridgend council who believes he was harshly treated following an investigation undertaken by Ms Cook. He was suspended from the council for three months for misleading residents of Porthcawl in a leaflet that raised funds to fight the opening of a women offenders’ institution in Porthcawl.

Technical breach

Cllr Aspey said: “It was a very minor, technical breach in one sentence of a leaflet that wasn’t reflected elsewhere in it. I didn’t even write the leaflet, but was providing a contact point for a local residents’ group. The plan didn’t go ahead and the money raised was split between the RNLI and the Sea Cadets, I thought that at most I’d get a rap over the knuckles, but in my opinion Ms Cook made it out to be much more serious than it was. Nearly everyone thought I’d been very harshly treated, and it certainly didn’t seem right at the time.”

Cllr Ian Williams, another Independent councillor in Bridgend, complained about the then Labour leader of the council, Huw David, breaching GDPR by handing over a personal letter to a Labour Party member whose behaviour he had raised concerns about. Cllr Williams said: “The council’s monitoring officer said Cllr David shouldn’t have passed on my letter, but when I complained to the Ombudsman it was dismissed by Ms Cook within three days.”

Serious concerns

Cllr Amanda Williams, who leads the Bridgend County Independents group of councillors said: “I have a legal background and used to investigate complaints for a local health board. I have very serious concerns about the Ombudsman’s office.

“There is no doubt in my mind that non-Labour councillors are treated more harshly than Labour councillors. While complaints made about Labour councillors tend to be dismissed quickly, non-Labour councillors can wait for a very long time to have complaints against them resolved. This causes immense stress. I am aware of one councillor who has contemplated suicide because of such delays. This is completely unacceptable and things must change.”

A spokeswoman for the Ombudsman’s office told us on March 28: “We were made aware of these allegations two days ago and we are dealing with this matter.

“As I am sure you can appreciate, we take allegations of this nature very seriously and will investigate in accordance with our Standards of Conduct. We cannot comment further at this stage as we will need to conduct our own internal investigation.”


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
20 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Another Richard
Another Richard
11 days ago

The tweets are astonishingly crass. Even aside from any question of bias Ms Cook appears to lack the intellectual maturity essential for her role. She should be sent packing.

Yuri Nator
Yuri Nator
10 days ago

As it is the public sector she’ll probably be on sick leave for at least a year; any proceedings will be paused for the duration and at most she’ll be give a written warning, I abandoned an HR career in the public sector years ago for these sort of reasons. I’m in complete agreement with you though. This person is clearly unfit for the role on many levels. Did I read in the earlier articles about this that she’d been retweeting social media posts from her employer’s Twitter? Talk about lacking in intelligence. You don’t want any link whatsoever to… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
11 days ago

What this has done is flush out a couple of Tories to start spouting their trademark hypocrisy when they would otherwise stay silent on watchdogs which are in place to protect shareholders interests and never the interests of the public.

Neil McEvoy
Neil McEvoy
11 days ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

I blew whistle (again) not the Tories.

hdavies15
hdavies15
10 days ago
Reply to  Neil McEvoy

F.y.u has serious blind spots when it comes to behaviours. At his/her worst it comes down to “anything anti Tory is O.K” but is a bit barren on other matters.

Frank
Frank
11 days ago

Sadly, decorum and etiquette has gone out of the window with people that should lead by example. Loud swearing has now spilled out into the street. During my working life I worked alongside a team of men and the language could be quite ripe at times but if ever a female member of staff from another department walked in unexpectedly and someone happened to swear an apology was offered immediately. Nowadays women are swearing as much as the men. Lack of vocabulary so they say!!!

Valerie Matthews
Valerie Matthews
11 days ago

He is only voicing that which many people think!

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
11 days ago

He or she? I’m not sure if you’re referring to the woman suspended or the Tory MS?

David Zenati-Parsons
David Zenati-Parsons
11 days ago

what the majority of Tory voters think #IndyWales we desperately need self governance

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
11 days ago

The audacity of any Tory to complain about prejudice when their entire strategy to stay in power is based on discriminating against minorities. Yes, this woman was crass and probably shouldn’t be in the position she’s in, but calling Tories out for their vile ways shows she has compassion and empathy. The vast majority of Tories either lack compassion and empathy or just turn it off when it suits them.

tulip
tulip
11 days ago

how walea can hope for more devolution and even independence when the whole system is orientated around labour and bias.

David
David
11 days ago

She should be suspended by mid-day on April 2nd.

Roy
Roy
11 days ago

Major scandal as Welsh Ombudsman’s head of investigations wrote ‘F*** the Tories’
He is only saying the truth like what 99% of voter are saying
in U.K.-Wales-Scotland-N-Ireland before G.E. and May Cllr election

hdavies15
hdavies15
10 days ago
Reply to  Roy

She can do that when she casts her vote. Her propensity to bias renders her unfit for her present role.

Roy
Roy
10 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

good point you make

Yuri Nator
Yuri Nator
10 days ago
Reply to  Roy

She is employed by a Civil Service organisation and is required to be politically neutral. You’ve got to be very careful about avoiding this sort of thing happening ie letting your own political beliefs appear to suggest a lack of neutrality.
The way she has gone about things suggests a lack of nous at the very least.

Given there are already 2 examples of when complaints made by councillors, including an independent councillor, against Labour councillors have been rejected out of hand, the revelations are effectively an open goal situation now.

Jeff
Jeff
11 days ago

Untenable. Should not happen in that position.

But really, the Cons need to take a deep look at themselves when they let their leaders get away with with similar and worse. They gave Johnson a free pass after all that he lied and stoked up hate.

So my takeaway here, the Cons will look after what they accuse the lady of and defend that same stance from any leader but attack anyone that does the same.

How is Hesters money sitting?

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
10 days ago

It is said as most people in Wales think it

Neil McEvoy
Neil McEvoy
10 days ago
Reply to  Dai Ponty

The Ombudsman is Labour politics via legal means. The only recourse is judicial review, but that’s £100k. The system neuters opposition on behalf of Labour. The cases I was guilty in were a farce. They did the job though.

Howard Humphries
Howard Humphries
5 days ago

Obviously this woman is crass , biased and rude not what you would expect from someone in her position, how can anyone other than a labour member be expecting to be treated fairly, she should be immediately dismissed for gross misconduct,not allowed to go on sick leave with stress which is what most civil servants do when caught out.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.