Basis for ruling on use of fake social media accounts by councillors

Chris Rust made this Freedom of Information request to Sheffield City Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Sheffield City Council.

Dear Sheffield City Council,

You received a complaint from a Ms Sally Goldsmith, claiming that Cllr Gibson had used a social media account in a false name to make offensive remarks relating to his political agenda.

The ruling by Gillian Duckworth was that this was not a matter for disciplinary action since the members code of conduct only apples to members when acting in their capacity as members.

I wish to understand the basis and scope of this ruling. Please tell me:

1. If a Councillor makes a public statement about the policies of the council, would s/he be deemed to be acting as a member of the council?

2. If a Councillor makes public criticism of a political opponent in Sheffield Council, would s/he be deemed to be acting as a member of the council?

3. If a Councillor takes part in a public protest relating to a policy of the council, would s/he be deemed to be acting as a member of the council?

4. If a Councillor takes part in civil disobedience in relation to a policy of the council, would s/he be deemed to be acting as a member of the council?

5. In any situation where a Councillor is deemed to be acting as a member of the council, if they conceal their identity or use a false identity while carrying out the act described, would that mean they are no longer considered to be acting as a member of the council?

Yours faithfully,

Chris Rust

FOI, Sheffield City Council

 
Dear Chris Rust,
 
Thank you for your recent request for information relating to Councillor
acting as member of the Council which we received on 10/12/2018.
 
This has been logged as a Freedom of Information Request, and will be
dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act.  The reference number for
your request can be found above.
 
The Freedom of Information Act states that we must respond to you within
20 working days, therefore, you should expect to hear a response from us
by 10/01/2019.
 
In the meantime, if you have any queries please, contact us at the email
address below.
 
Thank you.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Sheffield City Council
PO Box 1283
Sheffield, S1 1UJ
Email: [1][Sheffield City Council request email]
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
 
_____________________________________________
From: Chris Rust [[2]mailto:[FOI #538078 email]]
Sent: 08 December 2018 12:46
To: FOI
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Basis for ruling on use of fake
social media accounts by councillors
 
 
Dear Sheffield City Council,
 
You received a complaint from a Ms Sally Goldsmith, claiming that Cllr
Gibson had used a social media account in a false name to make offensive
remarks relating to his political agenda.
 
The ruling by Gillian Duckworth was that this was not a matter for
disciplinary action since the members code of conduct only apples to
members when acting in their capacity as members.
 
I wish to understand the basis and scope of this ruling. Please tell me:
 
1. If a Councillor makes a public statement about the policies of the
council, would s/he be deemed to be acting as a member of the council?
 
2. If a Councillor makes public criticism of a political opponent in
Sheffield Council, would s/he be deemed to be acting as a member of the
council?
 
3. If a Councillor takes part in a public protest relating to a policy of
the council, would s/he be deemed to be acting as a member of the council?
 
4. If a Councillor takes part in civil disobedience in relation to a
policy of the council, would s/he be deemed to be acting as a member of
the council?
 
5. In any situation where a Councillor is deemed to be acting as a member
of the council, if they conceal their identity or use a false identity
while carrying out the act described, would that mean they are no longer
considered to be acting as a member of the council?
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Chris Rust
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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[3][FOI #538078 email]
 
Is [4][Sheffield City Council request email] the wrong address for Freedom of Information
requests to Sheffield City Council? If so, please contact us using this
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For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
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Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.
 
If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
 
 

show quoted sections

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Dear Chris Rust,
 
Thank you for your recent request for information relating to Councillor
acting as member of the Council which we received on 10/12/18.
 
Please find below, Sheffield City Council’s response to your request:
 
Each complaint concerning a member is dealt with on its own merits and,
before the assessment of a complaint, it may be necessary to seek further
information or clarification from the complainant or the member concerned.
This FOI request puts forward questions about several possible scenarios.
However, each complaint is assessed individually and on the facts of the
case.
 
We publish online the procedure for dealing with complaints about
councillors and co-opted members, which includes (at section 6) the
process of assessment by the Monitoring officer and can be downloaded from
the following webpage:
 
[1]http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/content/shef....
As this information is accessible by other means it is exempt from
disclosure under Section 21(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
 
If you have any queries about this response, please do not hesitate to
contact us.
 
If you are unhappy with the response you have received in relation to your
request, you are entitled to have this reviewed.  You can ask for an
internal review by either writing to the above address or by emailing
[2][Sheffield City Council request email].  Internal review requests should be submitted
within 40 working days from the date of this response.
 
If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of your internal review, you
can contact the Information Commissioners Office. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner's Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF, telephone 0303
123 1113, or for further details see their website [3]www.ico.org.uk
 
Kind Regards,
 
Sheffield City Council
PO Box 1283
Sheffield, S1 1UJ
Email: [4][Sheffield City Council request email]
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
_____________________________________________
From: Chris Rust [[5]mailto:[FOI #538078 email]]
Sent: 08 December 2018 12:46
To: FOI
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Basis for ruling on use of fake
social media accounts by councillors
 
 
Dear Sheffield City Council,
 
You received a complaint from a Ms Sally Goldsmith, claiming that Cllr
Gibson had used a social media account in a false name to make offensive
remarks relating to his political agenda.
 
The ruling by Gillian Duckworth was that this was not a matter for
disciplinary action since the members code of conduct only apples to
members when acting in their capacity as members.
 
I wish to understand the basis and scope of this ruling. Please tell me:
 
1. If a Councillor makes a public statement about the policies of the
council, would s/he be deemed to be acting as a member of the council?
 
2. If a Councillor makes public criticism of a political opponent in
Sheffield Council, would s/he be deemed to be acting as a member of the
council?
 
3. If a Councillor takes part in a public protest relating to a policy of
the council, would s/he be deemed to be acting as a member of the council?
 
4. If a Councillor takes part in civil disobedience in relation to a
policy of the council, would s/he be deemed to be acting as a member of
the council?
 
5. In any situation where a Councillor is deemed to be acting as a member
of the council, if they conceal their identity or use a false identity
while carrying out the act described, would that mean they are no longer
considered to be acting as a member of the council?
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Chris Rust
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[6][FOI #538078 email]
 
Is [7][Sheffield City Council request email] the wrong address for Freedom of Information
requests to Sheffield City Council? If so, please contact us using this
form:
[8]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...
 
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[9]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...
 
For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[10]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...
 
Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.
 
If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
 
 

show quoted sections