3:46pm Tuesday 3rd June 2014
By Charlie Peat
A former councillor has been found to have breached the councillors' code of conduct with comments made on a social media site.
Chris Joannides was expelled from the Conservative Party for one year after his page on social network Facebook was found to have contained a 'joke' comparing Muslim burqas to dustbin bags.
An Enfield Borough Council councillor conduct committee report states Mr Joannides “failed to treat people with respect regardless of their race and religion”.
The report also said that Mr Joannides “should have been aware that the issues under discussion were politically sensitive, and that people would have known that he was a councillor and would have perceived him to be acting within his role as a councillor.”
At the time of the incident in February 2013, Mr Joannides was a Conservative councillor but stood as an Independent until last month’s election after his removal from the party.
The detailed investigation, which was agreed to be released to local media, concluded he had breached the code of conduct.
Mr Joannides has contested the findings of the report.
In a statement, Mr Joannides said: "I wish to object strongly to both the methodology and the principal finding of the committee against me and make clear that I am currently considering my legal options carefully, including a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman and other possible legal challenges.
"For one, I strongly disagree with the assertion that writing on my private Facebook wall was an ‘activity carried out as a member of the council’ or that I was representing the council in anyway in using Facebook.
"Further, this matter was investigated thoroughly by the Metropolitan Police in the summer of 2013, who decided not to take action against me based, I believe, on the unreliability of the evidence.
"Unfortunately I believe that I have consistently been subjected to trial by media, who have found me to be guilty of wrongdoing without giving a fair consideration of the evidence.
"The timing of the committee’s investigation is also worrying. I had no reason to believe that the conduct committee was going to take any action against me until I was re-selected as a Conservative councillor for the May 2014 local elections.
"I do however welcome the fact that the vast majority of the Facebook material in question has now been disregarded by the committee, which accords with the Metropolitan Police investigation, and I consider vindication in part.
"While I consider my legal options I will not be making any further legal statement regarding this matter."
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