04:42PM, Thursday 29 June 2017
A senior councillor has come under fire this week for his conduct on social media — but will not face punishment from the Royal Borough.
Cllr MJ Saunders (Con, Cookham), the Royal Borough’s cabinet member for finance, has found himself the subject of complaints to the council over a series of messages sent on Twitter over the weekend.
Several were directed at the Advertiser, which Cllr Saunders has accused both this week and in recent months of misleading readers and being ‘biased press’, in relation to articles the paper has run holding the council to account.
Others were directed at editor Martin Trepte, whom Cllr Saunders labelled a ‘self appointed unelected fire raiser’ and ‘dodgy’.
After being told the paper wanted nothing more to do with him due to his behaviour, Cllr Saunders unleashed a tirade in which he told Mr Trepte to ‘feel free to wallow in the sump as your circulation continues to collapse and you have to keep jacking your price’.
There were further tweets directed at other Twitter users.
The Advertiser understands by Monday at least two residents had made formal complaints to the council’s monitoring officer about Cllr Saunders’ behaviour, although yesterday (Wednesday) one complainant told the paper he had not even received an acknowledgement.
However, council leader Simon Dudley tweeted this afternoon (Thursday) to confirm the council's monitoring officer has determined there was no breach of the code of conduct from Cllr Saunders.
This is despite the code warning members against bullying, described in the document as ‘behaving in an abusive or threatening way, or making allegations about people in public’.
He added he has asked for an early adoption of a social media policy aligned to the code of conduct.
When asked by the Advertiser if he felt Cllr Saunders’ behaviour was acceptable, Cllr Dudley said it would not be appropriate to comment.
When asked whether his comments were acceptable from someone in public office, Cllr Saunders replied: “If true yes – if false no.”
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