Plaid Cymru’s candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner has fallen the wrong side of press ignorance, an Internet trolling and cyberstalking expert has said.
Arfon Jones is Plaid Cymru’s candidate in the election for Police and Crime Commissioner in North Wales. Newspaper reports suggested he encouraged people via Twitter to send bomb threats and said that ISIS were a creation of the UK Government.
But Internet trolling and cyberstalking expert Councillor Jonathan Bishop, who is an Independent candidate for South Wales Central region for the Welsh Assembly and a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, says Arfon Jones has been misrepresented. “Twitter as a platform is legally speaking no different to a public house or the streets outside of them,” he said. “People will say things on Twitter which if legal action was taken that a ‘fantasy defence’ could be used to quash any claim of impropriety.
“Arfon Jones is unlikely to have grown up with the Internet like myself, as I have multiple accounts on Twitter, including one for my professional life, one for my political life, and one for joking about with.
“Had Arfon Jones done the same then he would have a case to take the newspapers concerned to the press standards body, IPSO.
“Under the law Arfon Jones has done nothing wrong, because his messages were clearly not intended to be taken seriously and if one looks at the Crown Prosecution Service guidance made following the Twitter joke trial then any request for action by the Crown Prosecution would not result in a prosecution.
“Arfon Jones is a victim of press exploitation, trying to portray him in a manner that has no reflection of reality.”
Plaid Cymer leader, Leanne Wood, gave her full support to Arfon Jones, saying his Twitter feed would “perhaps be more sort of in line with the role in which he is seeking to be elected to.”
Both Arfon Jones and Jonathan Bishop, and indeed Leanne Wood, are all standing for election to their respective elected bodies on 5 May 2016.