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Councillor has ‘freedom of speech’ says Ombudsman following complaint

A PEMBROKESHIRE county councillor will not be investigated by the Local Government Ombudsman after the body decided that posts he made on social media did not amount to a breach of the councillors code of conduct.

Cllr Paul Dowson had expressed his negative opinions about a business in Pembroke Dock, E-Lettings, and proprietor, Miss Jill Evans had made a complaint. Miss Evans had said that Cllr Dowson had ‘harassed me and my company on Facebook’.

In a written response dated November 15, Sandra Franklin from the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales said: “Having considered the posts I am not persuaded that Cllr Dowson’s posts are suggestive of a breach of the code. Whist I note that you consider that his statements are untruthful; these comments appear to represent his views and opinion.

“I should explain that councillors have a wide freedom of expression. In both their official and personal capacity. In particular, Article 10 of the Europen Convention on Human Rights and common law afford him the right to free speech – meaning that he can say certain things which even if they may be shocking or offensive to some people he nevertheless has the right to express them.”

Cllr Dowson has been critical about the way that E-Lettings is managing its properties regarding collection of rubbish, rats, and fire hazard. Recently rubbish left by tenants was set ablaze.

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