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Council complains over online abuse of staff

By Pete Madeley | Sandwell | News | Published:

Sandwell Council has complained to social media platforms over abusive content directed towards its staff.

The authority has called for a clampdown on online bullying, after it was claimed that many employees had been subjected to 'deplorable' abuse on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and online blogs.

It comes after an investigation ruled that former council assistant chief executive Melanie Dudley was subjected to a campaign of bullying by former councillor Richard Marshall.

Surjit Tour, director of law and governance and monitoring officer at Sandwell Council, said: "The council does not accept bullying in any form which includes abuse, vile comments and misinformation shared on social media.

“We are aware of complaints from staff about harassment by individuals on social media and we sympathise with Ms Dudley’s concerns.

“Many employees have been subjected to abuse on social media which we think is deplorable. We will continue to take legal advice about how to protect our staff and have complained to social media platforms about abusive content.

“However, the law about what people can say on social media is very weak and the council is limited in what action it can take.

“The council would like to clarify that Ms Dudley’s departure was mutually agreed as a financial and operational efficiency.

“A thorough independent investigation was carried out into a formal complaint from Ms Dudley, which concluded that one person was responsible for sharing information with a blogger and that person has confirmed they acted alone.

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“The council is also concerned there are insufficient powers to deal with elected members who abuse their position and representations have been made to the Government to address this.”

Mr Marshall, who represented Smethwick for Labour until standing down earlier this year, said he feels he has been made a 'scapegoat'.

The authority says that as he has already quit, no action can be taken against him.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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