No action against Edinburgh council leader Adam McVey by standards watchdog over cyclist tweet
The local government standards watchdog will not take any action against city council leader Adam McVey over a tweet he posted about an incident in which a 47-year-old cyclist was seriously injured by a wire placed across a cycle path.
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A complaint was made to the Ethical Standards Commissioner (ESC) alleging Cllr McVey had broken the councillors’ code of conduct by implying that people who campaigned against the Spaces for People programme were responsible for the incident.
On March 19 this year, Cllr McVey shared a report from STV News, detailing how the man was injured by a wire placed across the Newcraighall public park cycle lane in Craigmillar.
As well as sharing the article, he commented: "The is appalling [sic]. Those spewing a poisonous campaign against children cycling safely & #SpacesFor- People projects need to take responsibility for their behaviour, reflect &change."
The comments were criticised at the time by several Conservative councillors including group leader Iain Whyte.
But in its report on the case, the Standards Commission said: “While it was considered that Councillor McVey could have expressed himself in a clearer fashion, the tweet itself was not considered by the Acting ESC to be a gratuitous personal comment towards any of the complainers, nor a comment that amounted to offensive abuse (notwithstanding any personal offence that may have been caused by the tweet).
"The Acting ESC was satisfied that, despite the way the tweet may have sounded or was perceived, Councillor McVey’s intention was not to link those campaigning against the Spaces for People project with the criminal behaviour described in the news article.”
The Standards Commission decided it was not in the public interest to hold a hearing, which means there is no decision on whether or not he broke the code,
But the commission said Cllr McVey “should have considered how his comment could or was likely to be perceived”.
And it added: “Councillors should be mindful that what may seem harmless to them could be offensive to someone else and should consider carefully the potential impact of all social media posts before making them.”
Cllr McVey was also the subject of another complaint over a tweet about an Edinburgh Evening News article entitled “An Edinburgh journey that took three times longer than it should have done thanks to city council”. He re-tweeted the article and commented: “Women drives the wrong way across City & doesn’t understand how google maps works. What a scoop!”
The Acting ESC concluded that Cllr McVey, in mocking the article and alleging that its author did not understand Google Maps, had behaved in a “disrespectful and discourteous manner” and the tweet amounted to a contravention the councillors’ code of conduct, but that he was entitled to freedom of expression.
The commission decided it was not in the public interest to hold a hearing, but agreed Cllr McVey should be reminded of “the importance of adhering to the respect provisions in the code, in all settings including social media, in order to ensure public confidence in the role of a councillor and the council itself is maintained”.