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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tweeting about Scientology

Just back from holiday, so what has been happening. Bizarrely, the biggest controversy on Twitter is about Scientology and the comments of my good friend Councillor John Dixon from Cardiff.

John has been found to be in breach of the code of conduct for expressing the view in a tweet that Scientology is stupid. His fate is to be determined in October but in the meantime many others have been expressing support for him and horror at what they believe is the wrong decision by the Welsh Ombudsman.

Here is John's appearance on Newsnight defending his tweet:

he said it and the best for him to do is just apologise,
bit of a fool saying it was a private comment when it is a tweet which is a public forum
Like it or loath it, we have still got free speech in this country, despite the best efforts of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, introduced by the last Labour administration which has seriously eroded our rights to criticise religions.

Regarding the decision taken by the Ombudsman's Office, I'm begining to think that this office is more of a political organisation than anything else, I have certainly seen at least one letter in the Glamorgan Gazette by a labour activist encouraging readers of said publication to make a complaint to the Ombudsman's office regarding a then Lib Dem councillor on Bridgend CBC.

I can remember writing into a local paper around Aug 2004 regarding the office of the Ombudsman, in the annual report 2003/04 the LA Ombudsman received some 580 complaints only three cases where the Ombudsman judge that “Maladministration with Resulting Injustice” has occurred, that's just half of one percent.
I really can't believe that public money is being wasted in investigating John Dixon. It is a fair comment.

I hope that incidents like this don't deter politicians from using Twitter. It's great for engagement with people and for people to see that MPs and councillors and AMs and MSPs etc are first and foremost human beings.

The correct response to the Church of Scientology from the Standards Board should have been to reject their complaint out of hand.
Elronology is not a church: it in officially NOT a religion. The ombudsman is wrong in law.
Dixon should set up his own church which requires him to pray by describing as stupid four things every day, and then make a formal complaint that the Welsh ombudsperson is discriminating against his religious practices!
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