Council sacks officer over Facebook ‘spy’ claims
A COMMUNICATIONS boss who was suspended amid claims she used Facebook “spy accounts” to secretly monitor council critics has been dismissed .
Jo Smith, communications manager of Argyll and Bute Council, was the subject of an external investigation over revelations she was alleged to have made in a presentation to delegates at a PR conference. Ms Smith, who was suspended in February, was dismissed after a disciplinary hearing, which is believed to have examined whether or not her actions brought the council into disrepute.
Paul Holleran, National Union of Journalists Scottish organiser, said yesterday Ms Smith would appeal the council decision.
He said: “Jo is disappointed the council has decided that she gave the impression at a conference that it was engaged in a form of covert surveillance, even though its own investigation report – carried out at great expense – says it ‘has not uncovered any form of any kind of spy accounts or covert surveillance tactics having been considered, or requested, or sanctioned, or adopted, or put in place, or carried out by Jo Smith’.”
After Ms Smith was suspended, two long-serving press officers at the council were also suspended, and later quit, after a separate incident. An investigation brought to light messages the press officers had written on the council’s private messaging system that were thought to be inappropriate.
Louise Glen-Lee, lead councillor for communication at Argyll and Bute Council, said: “This situation was one we inherited from the previous administration. However, I am satisfied the process put into place by the executive director was appropriate.”
A council spokesman said: “The matter is still being dealt with in terms of the council’s disciplinary procedures and it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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