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.
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.
The Labour Party has taken a hammering in the Llantrisant Town By-Election, even with the local MP’s wife being parachuted into the role to take on Independent candidate, Freeman Jonathan Bishop, who was expected to take the seat.
The election was won by Louisa Mills, who moved to Llantrisant from Sweden, after being educated in Carmarthen. Louisa Mills promises to build a community garden in the town.
Liz Smith critcised the campaign of Freeman Jonathan Bishop, saying that his facts were “11 years old.” Her husband and Pontypridd MP Owen Smith criticised Bishop for “bringing [his] family into it.” In fact, all Freeman Bishop did was refer to Owen Smith’s wife, who was his opponent.
Freeman Bishop said he fought the election on the facts. “I did not say anything about Owen Smith’s family – his wife was my opponent,” he said. “I used the same strategy against Liz Smith that New Labour used in 1997, 2001 and 2005, which was to make reference to my opponents’ record and past statements.
“If they did not want me to raise these then they shouldn’t have said or done them.
“My campaign was on the whole positive, with me supporting the war memorial plans, and furthering my desire for there to be a Llantrisant festival.
“If my opponents cannot take their record, or lack of, being challenged then they should ask themselves if they are being fair on the electorate who may be far less restrained in their choice of words than I have been.”
Gareth Phillips, of TechArts, who was part of Louisa Mills’s campaign team, also criticised Freeman Bishop’s approach. “[E]ven though Louisa is another candidate she is also a member of the community first and foremost,” he said. “Louisa lives in Llantrisant and went to school in the area.”
Louisa Mills won the election with over 50% of the vote, polling 320 votes. Labour’s Liz Smith gained 273 votes and Independent Jonathan Bishop received 32 votes.
Trident is not the only option to deter war, a candidate and homeland security researcher in the by-election for Llantrisant Town has said.
Freeman of Llantrisant Jonathan Bishop, who is standing as an independent for the town and who is a strong supporter of the Llantrisant War Memorial Campaign, questions whether Britain going it alone with Trident will actually protect national security.
Freeman Bishop, who studied economics at Aberystwyth University and has a masters of laws degree in European Union law, says Britain must look beyond its own shores. “Much of the cost of Trident involves paying other NATO members to provide the labour and materials,” he said. “With NATO members facing the same threats from the same international powers and terrorists, we should be sharing the control and costs of a nuclear deterrent with our allies.”
Freeman Bishop, who has patented technology that can reduce the number of civilian casualties in warzones, says the government should ask whether an independent deterrent is actually an option. “Homeland security is not just about renewing Trident,” he said. “The Royal Air Force is instrumental in defending British airspace and the National Crime Agency needs expansion to protect us from new threats,” he said. “Renewing Trident might be an issue for Labour MPs fearful of losing their seats to Tories in the 2020 General Election, but in my view we should be collaborating with our allies in NATO to achieve a more affordable shared deterrent.”
It is not clear whether Labour candidate Liz Smith agrees with her husband Owen Smith, MP, over his strong support for another Trident programme. But another independent in the election, Louisa Mills, who works for a London-based woodcraft organization, is clear where she stands, saying she wants to send “peace and love energy across the world – near and far.”
Ashu M. G. Solo is a former infantry officer and platoon commander understudy. “Peaceniks turn a blind eye to genocide and ethnic cleansing and ignore atrocities by foreign dictators,” he said. “They trust foreign tyranny more than their own military, care more about domestic lives than foreign lives, put domestic prosperity over foreign liberty, and prefer peace under tyranny over war for liberty.”
Freeman Bishop, who is a member of the Institute of Marine Engineering and Technology, says defence policy is not as simple as war being the opposite of peace. “Whether we like it or not, war has been a reality for the last 5,000 years and things are unlikely to change any time soon,” he said. “In my view we should be reducing the number of nuclear powers in the world to between four and six with NATO being one of them, which would mean they would be an ‘oligopoly,’ so that at some point in the distant future, they could all disarm at once.
“Both my grandfathers were involved in World War II, one as a gunner and the other as a miner, so as nice as we would like the world to be, unilateral disarmament like some peaceniks call for will not work.“
The Labour Party has Surrey’s Liz Smith, the wife of Pontypridd MP Owen Smith, parachuted in as a candidate for Llantrisant Town to try to prevent Freeman of Llantrisant Jonathan Bishop taking the seat.
Liz Smith has only lived in Llantrisant since 2011, moving from her home in Surrey following husband Owen Smith’s election in 2010.
Owen Smith left Pontypridd in 2005 in order to promote the interests of drugs firm, Pfizer. Following losing the Blaenau Gwent by-election in 2006, he was rewarded with candidature in the Pontypridd parliamentary seat in Labour’s heartlands, which he won in 2010.
Liz Smith is taking on Freeman Jonathan Bishop, whose family connections with the town date back to the 1700s. Freeman Bishop previously served on Llantwit Fardre Community Council and Pontypridd Town Council. His grandfather, Seth Morgan, founded the Llantrisant Workingmen’s Club and former Llantrisant Town Council Chairman, Ivor Jacob, is a direct ancestor.
Freeman Jonathan Bishop says this is pure desperation by the Labour Party. “The Labour Party know I am the strongest candidate in this election and are hoping that as Liz Smith has an address in Llantrisant that she will appear more local than me,” he said. “The reality is that both my opponents have moved into the town from other localities.
“Liz Smith moved from Surrey and Louisa Mills is from Carmarthen, and both need to realise that having an address in Llantrisant does not make them more local than me, as I have a strong family history and passion for the town that they cannot match.
“I have stood in nearly a dozen elections, including for the UK Parliament, and standing in my family home town of Llantrisant is my proudest.”
The election to the ward of Llantrisant Town on Llantrisant Community Council is taking place on Thursday 10 March 2016.
Carmarthen girl, Louisa Mills, has announced she will be contesting the by-election in Llantrisant.
Louisa Mills, who studied at Queen Elizabeth Cambria School in Carmarthen, is to stand to Llantrisant for the community council. “A crazy old man once told me, when I was a wide eyed little girl, that I was stood at a ‘gateway to the Other World’,” Louisa Mills said. “It was an otherwise ordinary family holiday in Land’s End, Cornwall.
“What I couldn’t have known was that I was also stood in a moment that would direct my life in so many ways,” she concluded about Cornwall in England. “My favourite places to eat out are those that tend to have a lot of traditional Welsh food on their menus – it was The Cawdors hotel when I lived near Llandeilo,” she added.
Louisa Mills draws on experience for her time working for Cygnus Books in Llandeilo, Dyfed. “Over the years I’ve developed a unique art and talent for conveying it with well chosen words,” she said. “My avid career, in editorial and copywriting, is built largely on that eager perception – it means I can get straight to the heart of a brand or product and translate crucial sales messages into engaging and personal calls to action.“