Labour councillor censured for posting 'defamatory' comments online under pseudonym

A Rother Valley councillor has been sanctioned for breaching his council’s code of conduct after posting remarks online about a contract awarded to a local firm of surveyors.

By Danielle Andrews, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 8th March 2021, 12:11 pm

Councillor Jonathon Ireland Labour representative for Anston and Woodsetts, was hauled before Rotherham Council’s standards and ethics sub-committeeon January 18 2021.

Coun Ireland, who is also a member of Anston Parish Council, was investigated following a complaint by a local surveying firm that he had made defamatory comments about them online.

He was found to have breached the Anston Parish Council Code of Conduct by making comments under the pseudonym “Anstonian” on a social media blog site, named Anston Parish Council Watch.

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Although Coun Ireland indicated that it was not he who had made the comment on the social media, the administrator of the blog site confirmed the e-mail address associated to the pseudonym “Anstonian”, was [email protected]

The hearing by the sub committee found that the comment was in relation to a contract awarded to a local firm of surveyors by Anston Parish Council, referring to “possible nepotism”.

The sub-committee found that Parish Councillor Ireland had made the posts under the pseudonym of “Anstonian” and due to the content of the post, was in breach of the code of conduct in that he had “failed to treat others with respect”.

The committee’s findings were to be reported to full council on March 3, but the meeting was adjourned until March 10.

A series of sanctions against Coun Ireland were agreed at the meeting, including censuring him, and removing him from the council’s standards and ethics committee.

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