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Top Ombudsman investigator who wrote ‘F*** the Tories’ is suspended

03 Apr 2024 6 minute read
Welsh Conservative Shadow Local Government Minister Sam Rowlands – Image: Senedd Cymru

Martin Shipton

The head of investigations at the Welsh Ombudsman’s office has been suspended following a series of social media postings including one in which she wrote: “F*** the Tories”.

Last week Nation.Cymru reported how an inquiry was underway into potential breaches of impartiality rules by Sinead Cook, who is employed as the Investigations Team Manager at the office of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW) in Bridgend.

Politicians including the Secretary of State for Wales, David TC Davies,  Shadow Local Government Minister Sam Rowlands and a number of councillors have raised concerns about the running of the Ombudsman’s office and whether past complaints have been handled fairly.

As well as investigating complaints made by members of the public about public bodies, the Ombudsman’s office looks at complaints made against councillors for allegedly breaking their code of conduct.

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

One of Sinead Cook’s tweets

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.”

‘Tory Stan’

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.

Two of her posts 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.”

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.”

A further statement has now been issued to us which states: “The member of staff was suspended on Friday.”

Impartiality

Staff employed by PSOW are expected to abide by the Standards of Conduct policy which includes the following provisions:

* All staff are expected to act in accordance with PSOW’s values and with integrity, honesty, impartiality and objectivity and this policy provides the framework for acceptable conduct.

* Some aspects of this policy also relate to actions when not acting in a work capacity e.g. comments or posts published online in a personal capacity. All staff members have a responsibility to ensure that their conduct, including on-line conduct, (both at work and outside) and their appearance during working hours, and whilst representing PSOW, do not cause embarrassment to PSOW in any way.

* PSOW expects all staff members to adopt the highest standards of propriety and to act with integrity and impartiality at all times.

* It is of paramount importance that PSOW staff should be, and be seen to be, impartial and non-partisan.

* Staff must not at any time, whether using PSOW systems or not, publish defamatory and/or knowingly false material about PSOW, colleagues, complainants, public bodies or representatives of such organisations, online in any format including but not restricted to social networking sites, ‘blogs’ (online journals), ‘wikis’ etc. 10.3 Staff must not at any time, whether using PSOW systems or not, publish comments and/or other material that is deemed to bring the reputation of PSOW into disrepute online in any format, including but not restricted to social networking sites, ‘blogs’ (online journals), ‘wikis’ and any online publishing format.

* Staff should avoid using PSOW issued hardware to access social networking, chat forum sites etc. for non business reasons. Staff may access such sites for non business reasons on their own devices using the PSOW guest wifi network, provided that this is outside PSOW time. However care should be taken by staff at all times to avoid personal comments or personal posts that could adversely affect the reputation of PSOW.

* Where it is evidenced that a member of staff has failed to comply with any element of this policy, disciplinary action could result.


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Richard
Richard
9 days ago

We must have confidence in these pillars of public standards and propriety for sure ✔️

The statements by leading politicians and particularly the Tory U turns and weaving of the likes of ARTD and Janet FS which many think provide a safe environment for those who daub our mph warning ⚠️ signs on our roads near some responsibility and should like this ombudsman guy be open to account.

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 days ago

If the alleged culprit had been a head of drain and gully cleansing in a valley council I don’t think he/she would have had any thing like a case to answer. However this eejit is employed at a senior level in the office of the Welsh Ombudsman and should be held to higher standards in public office. Isn’t something like that written into terms of employment ? If not then it should be included.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
9 days ago

I fully understand and acknowledge why Ms Cooks’ comments have compromised her position with the Ombudsman. Beyond that, the GBeebies driven new ‘Free speech phenomenon’ was not designed for the likes of Ms Cook who has picked it up and is throwing it all back in their faces. Delightful! The Tories mentioned here do have a legitimate gripe in relation to her role but the fact is they would try and shut her down anyway just like one of theirs in Y Senedd suggested that Nation Cymru should be.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
9 days ago

I can understand how this Ombudsman investigator Sinead Cook must be impartial and so on, although her words were very apt I might say, but it’s ironic how she’s been suspended for her tweets when WS David TC Davies used anti-Gypsy tropes in political flyers, Boris Johnson was derogatory to Muslim women, referred to Gay men using a sexual slur, and where David TC Davies aka Lord Haw Haw remains in his post like hard to remove stain, Boris Johnson was elected leader of the English Conservatives and later prime minister. Funny, speak the truth you are cancelled, use racist… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by Y Cymro
Richard Davies
Richard Davies
9 days ago

I agree with all the comments posted by @SweetlittleSewandsew.

Why vote
Why vote
8 days ago

Well you don’t have to look very far to find a breach of impartiality rules or will it be classed as a Typo, moment of madness, error of judgement, or will he be promoted? Sacked is the answer never to be employed in any government position anywhere ever again.
Top ombudsman 😂🤣.

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