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Plaid Cymru councillor censured over gun social media post

23 Feb 2024 3 minute read
The picture uploaded by Jon Scriven as part of his Facebook post

A Plaid Cymru councillor 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).

Complaints 

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.

Jon Scriven’s Facebook post

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.

‘One off’

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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cablestreet
cablestreet
1 month ago

Home Office guidelines point out that it’s an offence to have an air weapon in a public place without reasonable excuse. Have the police seen this photo? Just asking.

Arfon Jones
Arfon Jones
1 month ago

But its OK for a Councillor to post a Britain First meme on FB and the PSOW deems that to be freedom of speech. She has no consistency whatsoever.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Really should have known where this would lead, it was a stupid move. No sympathy. If I had seen him in the car park with that it would have been 999 bloke with a rifle in a public car park.

Rhddwen y Sais
1 month ago

Did Plaid comment?

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
1 month ago

From the highest to the lowest in rank, far too many public offices nowadays are filled by people unfit to clean a public convenience.

Bethan
Bethan
1 month ago

When will people learn humour doesn’t translate either politically or over the internet. Comedians need to know their audience. On social media your audience is potentially everyone. You can’t know them, so you can’t assume they won’t take you seriously. The joke I don’t personally find offensive. Along the borders there is a centuries old joke that it’s still legal for an English person to shoot a Welsh person with a crossbow if they are in England passed midnight, so… regional t*t for tat. I’m more concerned about him actually wielding a firearm/airgun/projectile killing instrument in public. Can we just… Read more »

FrankC
FrankC
1 month ago
Reply to  Bethan

Censured is correct. It means to express severe disapproval of (someone or something), especially in a formal statement.

Bethan
Bethan
1 month ago
Reply to  FrankC

Haha really? Fair enough. That’s one that slipped through the net for me.

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