21 September 2018

Following a meeting of the Council's Standards Committee, Cllr Jason Smithers has found to be in breach of Northamptonshire County Council's Code of Conduct following a series of social media posts.

Below are the findings of the Standards Committee:

Findings of Fact

  • It is agreed that Cllr Smithers was acting in his capacity as a Councillor at the time he published the tweets. The tweets were also visible once he changed his Twitter header with reference to his role as a county councillor.
  • On a balance of probabilities, he intended the term Serious Fraud Office when he used the acronym SFO. A member of the public would likely come to the same conclusion. 
  • His comments were addressed to the individuals concerned, were personal in nature and would have been perceived as such by the recipients.

Based on available guidance and definitions in relation to bullying and disrepute, It is agreed that the following elements of the Code of Conduct were breached:

  • You must treat others with respect.
  • You must not bully any person.
  • You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute.

Mitigating factors taken into consideration

  • Cllr Smithers has made a partial apology.
  • He has made an acknowledgement of fault and an indication that he would not repeat the comments.

Aggravating factors

  • Cllr Smithers has told the Committee that he would not phrase things in the same way again but denies the comments made were offensive.
  • He showed a lack of awareness of the likelihood of causing offence by the use of the comments made.
  • On a balance of probabilities, he intended the term Serious Fraud Office when he used the acronym SFO but had continued to deny this.

The Standards Committee has determined that a sanction should be imposed.

  • The committee will publish its findings in respect of the member's conduct to Northamptonshire County Council's website.
  • The committee will report its findings to Council for information.