Councillor entitled to free speech

Councillor Louisa Mills complained that articles posted to discredit her links with Llantrisant amounted to 'harassment'
COMPLAINER: Councillor Louisa Mills complained that articles posted to discredit her links with Llantrisant amounted to “harassment”.

The Public Service Ombudsman for Wales has ruled that a councillor who faced a complaint of “harassment” from another councillor he wrote articles about online was entitled to free speech.

Councillor Jonathan Bishop, who is the parish councillor for Cam East, was accused of harassment by Councillor Louisa Mills, who is the community councillor for Llantrisant on Llantrisant Community Council.

Councillor Bishop was accused by Councillor Mills of harassment when he posted articles on the Internet to discredit her links with Llantrisant when both were contesting a by-election to Llantrisant Community Council.

Councillor Mills completed her compulsory education in Carmarthen, but had studied in Llantrisant as part of her primary education. Louisa Mills complained that Councillor Bishop’s attempt to discredit her amounted to harassment.

Councillor Jonathan Bishop would not have breached the Code of Conduct in Wales by posting articles about Councillor Louisa Mills.
FREEDOM TO SPEAK: Councillor Jonathan Bishop would not have breached the Code of Conduct in Wales by posting articles about Councillor Louisa Mills. Courtesy: Jonathan Bishop Limited.

Annie Ginwalla, the Acting Review Manager at the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales, responded to an appeal by Councillor Bishop. “You are correct in your assertion and citation of relevant case law that as an elected member you are entitled to enhanced protection of your Article 10 right to the freedom of expression and in such circumstances your comments would not be considered to be a breach of the Code if you were bound by the Model Code as an elected member here in Wales,” she said in a letter to Councillor Bishop.

Councillor Louisa Mills has been informed of the decision of the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales.