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Councillor banned for 15 months after Facebook posts breached code of conduct

 

A former councillor has been disqualified for 15 months after his Facebook posts breached a code of conduct, amid claims of a “toxic culture”.

Phil Baguley resigned from Sully and Lavernock community council last year, but has now been banned from standing for councillor again for almost a year and a half.

The Adjudication Panel for Wales found in December that three of his posts on Facebook “brought the council into disrepute”.

Mr Baguley claimed the posts were personal and about the Labour party’s handling of Brexit. The Adjudication Panel would not verify what the three posts were about, but said they breached the council’s code of conduct.

The panel received a letter from the Public Services Ombudsman in September, about allegations made against Mr Baguley.

The allegations included the three posts, made on January 10, March 9 and March 11 in 2019; and also that Mr Baguley failed to comply with the ombudsman’s investigation.

Mr Baguley responded to the panel’s decision by asking to be banned for life, rather than just 15 months. He said he would be tempted to stand again in the local elections due for May 2022, but a life ban would prevent him from doing so.

He confirmed he didn’t cooperate with the ombudsman’s investigation, saying: “I just told them to get lost. I don’t want anything to do with it. I want banning for life.”

He claimed the complaints made against him grew from the rife bullying in the community council, which has been a well-reported problem for years.

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He alleged the monitoring officer for the Vale of Glamorgan council “ignored” numerous complaints of bullying. He said: “She wanted to silence me. So I resigned; I had had enough. Then [the adjudication panel] decided in December to suspend me.”

A spokesman for the Vale council said: “Having resigned at the end of September as a community councillor, Mr Baguley was disqualified for 15 months from being a local government councillor by a unanimous decision of a case tribunal of the Adjudication Panel for Wales.

“This followed a referral from the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. The case tribunal found that Mr Baguley had posted three public Facebook messages the contents of which could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office and Sully and Lavernock community council into disrepute.

“It also found that he had failed to comply with the requests for information made by the ombudsman during the course of his investigation and as a result had breached the community council’s Members’ Code of Conduct.

“The monitoring officer and the Vale of Glamorgan council’s standards committee continues to work closely with the community council’s clerk and chairman (at any given time) to assist with addressing any concerns regarding compliance with the Members’ Code of Conduct.”

A spokesman for the community council declined to comment.

The Adjudication Panel for Wales is an independent body funded by the Welsh Government. Both the members and decisions of the panel are independent of the government.

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