Thursday 8 November 2012

Sauce for the goose

In Carmarthenshire reading the smallprint really matters, as we can see from Caebrwyn's report here on Carmarthenshire County Council's guidelines on using social networking sites, including blogs.

The guidance warns council staff that they must not use such sites:

To breach confidentiality
To criticise or abuse users of the Authority’s services, any other Council
employee or elected members
To bring the Authority or any of its employees and/or its elected
members into disrepute
During working hours
......Employees are advised that the publishing of any inappropriate, inaccurate or
defamatory information/ material in the public domain may result in
disciplinary action being taken by the Council in accordance with its
Disciplinary Policy & Procedure.  Furthermore, in certain circumstances, civil
court proceedings could ensue...

Any council employee rash enough to break the rules will find that action may be taken against them, but presumably not in all cases. Possibly depending on pay grade.

So if, purely hypothetically, a senior officer wrote something on a social networking site about a member of the public which led to a court case, the code may not have been breached.

Back in the real world, the case between Chief Executive Mark James CBE and blogger Jacqui Thompson is dragging on. Originally it was due to go to court in early December, but it seems that the Chief Executive's legal team still has a lot of work to do and a lot of fees to charge, and so the date has now been put back to 11 February.

As predicted, the cost of this exercise is escalating rapidly at a time when council leader Kevin Madge is warning that the council has no resources for anything else (except a new Merc, of course).

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