Council conduct complaint ‘an attempt to discredit me’

ks16000556-2 Bog Apr14 Poll phot kate
Jan Cosgrove with the Bognor Poll.ks16000556-2
ks16000556-2 Bog Apr14 Poll phot kate Jan Cosgrove with the Bognor Poll.ks16000556-2

A town councillor who posted a resident’s personal details on social media breached the council’s code of conduct, a panel has ruled.

Orchard ward councillor Jan Cosgrove reproduced an email from constituent Andrew Evans on Facebook, which included Mr Evans’ address.

The Labour councillor claimed he thought Mr Evans, a former Arun district councillor, was still an elected member and reproducing the email was therefore not against the code.

But Arun’s standards panel ruled he was in breach.

“This is not the first time that councillor Jan Cosgrove has had a complaint made against him related to social media,” the panel’s decision notice stated.

The committee found Mr Cosgrove was not in breach of a second, separate complaint, which saw him use the abbreviation ‘WTF’ in an email to resident Simon Fyfe.

Mr Fyfe questioned whether the phrase ‘WTF are you on about’ could be regarded as ‘disrespectful, bullying, intimidatory or conduct which brings the office of councillor, or the council, into disrepute’.

The panel found no suggestion Mr Cosgrove had aimed personal abuse at Mr Fyfe.

It countered by noting Mr Fyfe’s email suggesting the councillor ‘had issues with time management’ and that he buy the book ‘Time Management for Dummies’ could be deemed disrespectful.

In response to the rulings, Mr Cosgrove said the formal complaints were ‘attempts to discredit’ him, adding that he apologised to Mr Evans about the publication of the email as soon as he realised his error.

He said: “I was under the misapprehension that he was still a councillor. Frankly, that shows how much notice I take as to who is on Arun council.”

Mr Cosgrove said he no longer engaged on the town’s main Facebook pages, claiming he himself had been subject to ‘vicious’ and abusive posts.

The rulings were published as part of Arun’s standards committee agenda ahead of its meeting on Thursday.

Following the breach decision, the committee plans to write to Bognor Regis Town Council to inform it of the decision.

Mr Cosgrove said he would repeat the apology he made to Mr Evans at the time when required.