Sefton Councillors have voted through a policy against malicious cyberbullying

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Sefton Councillors have voted through a policy against malicious cyberbullying.

At the Council meeting last night, councillors agreed a detiled proposal on the subject put forward by Lib Dem Leader Iain Brodie Browne and supported by the Labour leadership.

The motion passed by the Council recognised the devastating effect the disgraceful and cowardly act of malicious trolling/cyberbullying, as defined by the Malicious Communications Act 1988, can have on individuals or their close relatives;

called for new legislation to deal with the issue of malicious trolling/cyberbullying and stronger rules be introduced to govern it and for people not being allowed to serve as councillors if proven to have taken part in malicious trolling/cyberbullying.

Councillor Brodie Browne highlighted the great deficiencies of the original motion on the subject submitted by Conservative Councillor Terry Jones which had intended to penalise people who had been accused of ‘Trolling’ when they had not been found guilty of anything. This went against Magna Carta and all principles of British Justice. Cllr Brodie Browne pointed out that Councillor Jones, who had recently described the head of Public Health in the North West Region as a ‘perv’ on his Facebook page was possibly the last person to bring forward any motion on this subject.

Councillor Haydn Preece agreed. He sad that the council should have a protocol on social media use but Councillor Jones should look to his own social media activity before seeking to judge others. He referred to the use of four-letter-word attacks by Councillor Jones using his Facebook and Twitter accounts. It was not right that Governors of schools should set a poor example to their students. Councillor Peter Dowd said that councillors should “look at our own activities first before we hold the mirror up to anyone else”.

Councillor Jones attempted to use the meeting to falsely accuse one councillor of being three separate posters on a website who had criticised him anonymously. He was rebuked by the Mayor for misusing the meeting in this manner.

Cllr Simon Shaw pointed out how important it was to define the terms being used properly. Trolling was a very wide term used to describe a colossal range of activities ranging from the merely irritating to serious malicious matters. Penalties ascribed to one definition of trolling would not be appropriate for the other. Labour Deputy Leader Ian  Maher said that the Lib Dem motion was considerably better than the original submitted by Cllr Jones.

Formby Labour Councillor Nina Killen pointed out the apparent dissonance between Councillor Jones’ purported motives in bringing forward his motion and his own behaviour in making personal attacks upon her for her use of perfectly-legitimate Council facilities for allowing her to attend council meetings when she required childcare help. This had sparked off considerable internet abuse of her. Councillor Dowd also remarked at how unfortunate he felt this attack had been.

The motion was passed unanimously.



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