Lib Dem councillor cleared of wrongdoing over Scientology tweet

Liberal Democrat Councillor John Dixon, from Cardiff, has been cleared of any wrondoing by the council’s Standards and Ethics Committee after calling Scientology “stupid” in a post on Twitter in 2009.

From Wales Online:

Members disagreed with the report of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Peter Tyndall, who said there was likely to have been a breach of the code because the Adamsdown ward member signed off his comments on the website as CllrJohnDixon when he criticised the church.

They concluded he was acting in a private capacity.

Coun Dixon, also executive member for health and social services, said: “I’m hugely relieved. It wouldn’t have minded my day in court because I think there are some flaws in the Ombudsman’s judgement which I wouldn’t have minded exploring. But I can now get on with other things. I can concentrate on the job I was elected to do.”

Councillor Dixon wrote a piece for the Humanist and Secularist Liberal Democrats in July, explaining (in a personal capacity) his reason for making the original comment and describing the controversy that followed.

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  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th Sep '10 - 9:22am

    He would have been guilty of “wrongdoing” if he’d said it in a “public capacity”? Astonishing.

  • Thank goodness John Dixon was “cleared of any wrongdoing”. His post on Twitter should never have been questioned in the first place and, quite frankly, I regard the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Peter Tyndall, to be an idiot who should be sacked.

    This entire distinction between ‘private capacity’ and ‘public capacity’ is absurd, as is any ‘code’ that enforces such a distinction or prevents councillors from airing their honest opinions on any matter. Such a code is a restriction on freedom of speech and councillors should be free to say whatever they want as long as it does not break the law. I want my councillors to have opinions and ideas – I don’t want them to be mindless automatons.

    If I was councillor (and I used to be 15 years ago) then I would not hesitate to say “Scientology is stupid” both privately and publicly, and I would not hesitate to equally criticise any other cult or irrational belief-system. Councillors ARE politicians and one of the big problems in this country is that all politicians are increasingly gagged by irrational beliefs and woolly-minded ‘political correctness’.

  • Quite apart from the merits or not of the content of what he said, I am very surprised he could be said to be acting in a private capacity when signing off as a Councillor.

    By way of comparision if a judge writes a newspaper article in a personal capacity they would usually sign it as Mr/Sir John Smith rather than Judge Smith.

  • Andrew Wimble 29th Sep '10 - 10:56am

    Calling scientology stupid is like calling grass green. It is a simple statement of fact.

  • James from Durham 29th Sep '10 - 10:57am

    I wouldn’t trusts anyone who didn’t go on record as saying that “scientology is stupid”. Remember L Ron Hubbard was a disciple of Aleister Crowley……

  • If Lord Denning could be rude about the “Church” of Scientology sitting as Master of the Rolls in the Court of Appeal, then what is wrong with an elected councillor expressing a negative opinion about said organisation which happens to be shared by almost everyone who has made a direct study of it?

  • Excellent news , but a pity that he has had so little support from the Party.

  • Mary McConnell 30th Sep '10 - 1:45am

    Congratulations, Councillor John Dixon! Free speech wins the day 🙂

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