Thursday, 22 July 2010

John Dixon and Scientology.

Cardiff City Council's Lead Member for Social Services, Councillor John Dixon has been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently. As he passed a branch of the Church of Scientology in Tottenham Court Road in June this year John 'tweeted'
"I didn't know the Scientologists had a church on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off."

Pretty innocuous stuff I would say, and as John says in his Newsnight interview a lot worse has been said about the Church of Scientology by others including Judges.

However the point is, a member of the church has taken umbrage at the comment and reported him to the Ombudsman, who has found that John has a cae to answer under the Code of Conduct and has referred the matter to the City Council's Standards Committee.

I think the Ombudsman's decision is flawed on several counts, firstly and even though John tweets as Councillor John Dixon this comment was made in London whilst he was on a shopping trip and was not connected to his role as a County Councillor.

Secondly, the Ombudsman has to apply a two stage test, the first test is whether a breach of the Code of Conduct had taken place and secondly. whether the breach alleged would likely to lead to a sanction by the Standards Committee. If the Ombudsman believes that the sanction imposed by a Standards Committee would be no higher than a censure then the Ombudsman can use his/her discretion in investigating.

It is doubtful whether John Dixon's alleged breach of the Code of Conduct would have resulted in a sanction higher than a censure and as such the Ombudsman should have exercised his discretion not to investigate.

No comments: