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Wigan councillor cleared by standards after tweet row

Coun Nathan Murray
Coun Nathan Murray

A councillor who was reported to the standards procedure at the town hall over a social media message has been cleared of wrongdoing.

Labour representative for Bryn, Coun Nathan Murray, was made the subject of a probe for his social media activity by former Standish Independent councillor Debbie Fairhurst.

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The matter related to a retweet of a message on the social media network Twitter which Mrs Fairhurst claimed was evidence of sexism.

However, after looking at evidence submitted by both Mrs Fairhurst and Coun Murray it was concluded that the members’ code of conduct for elected representatives had not been breached.

The deputy monitoring officer and an independent person at the town hall investigated the complaints against Coun Murray.

After being informed of the decision that no further action would be taken Coun Murray said: “I am glad this has been dealt with promptly and professionally.

“Both the deputy monitoring officer and independent person have assessed both my evidence and the evidence of the complainant and I was informed late last week that the council will not be pursuing the complaint under the code of conduct as it does not believe there has been a breach of the code”.

The decision notice said: “In accordance with the council’s arrangements for dealing with complaints about the code of conduct the deputy monitoring officer having consulted with an independent person considered the complaint, information and evidence.

“Their conclusion was that the evidence available did not show Coun Murray had demonstrated any breach of the Equality Act nor had he behaved in any way as to bring the council into disrepute.

“It was noted there was no evidence to support the complainant’s assertion that Coun Murray had displayed hate speech or misogynism.

“The independent person and deputy monitoring officer feel that the complaint is borne out of a political motive and tit-for-tat. The code is quite clear such complaints are not appropriate for consideration under the members’ code of conduct.

“In all the circumstances neither the independent person nor the deputy monitoring officer could see any evidence that the councillor had acted inappropriately.”

The complaint against Coun Murray came soon after Mrs Fairhurst’s fellow-ex opposition councillor Gareth Fairhurst was strongly condemned online for a comment about Wigan Council chief executive Donna Hall.

And Mrs Fairhurst attacked the local authority for what she described as double standards on abuse.

She said: “I find it staggering that the chief executive and council say they will not stand for online bullies towards women. For me it should be bullies for men too.

“They say any councillors found doing so will be brought before the standards committee. Yet it is clear from the evidence that this only applies to opposition councillors the council wants to target.

“The tweet was very clearly using the sort of language the council said they would stamp out but yet they disregarded the complaint and clear evidence within minutes. They didn’t even investigate.

“This now will demonstrate to the people of Wigan how biased this council and their chief executive is.”