A North Tyneside Conservative councillor has been officially rebuked for a “disingenuous and misleading” Facebook post that he “knew to be false”. 

Collingwood councillor Olly Scargill has been found to have breached three of the council’s codes of conduct following an investigation into a video he posted on Facebook on July 26, 2022.

The video showed the Labour Mayor, Dame Norma Redfearn, speaking on a motion passed by the council on July 21 2022 on honesty, integrity and respect in politics.

In the speech, Mayor Redfearn said she had not seen behaviour and methods in politics by the Conservatives “sink so low”.

The local Tories had courted controversy in last May’s election, branding a now ex-councillor Jim Allan in leaflets as the “laziest” councillor in the area for not attending meetings for some time. 

The Northern Echo: Councillor Olly ScargillCouncillor Olly Scargill (Image: LDR)

Mr Allan had in fact been suffering the illness ‘giant cell arteritis’ which can cause severe headaches and even blindness. 

This speech was presented by coun Scargill on Facebook as an attack on him and his “standing up for his residents” on issues like tackling anti-social behaviour, returning a 24-hour A&E to Rake Lane, and saving green spaces. The official report, however, did not agree.

The independent investigator, Mr Melvin Kenyon, wrote in his report: “ Coun Olly Scargill knew it to be false to readers of his Facebook post that the Mayor was attacking him for standing up for his residents.

He continued: “By making a disingenuous and misleading Facebook post and making comments about the Mayor’s speech he knew to be untrue coun Scargill’s conduct could reasonably be regarded as behaviour which could reduce the public’s confidence in him being able to fulfil his role”. 

The report also stated that the Collingwood representative had “knowingly stirred up abuse and disrespect for the Mayor and potentially incited hostility towards her”. Mr Kenyon’s report also agreed that Coun Scargill’s manipulation of the video was a misuse of council resources for political purposes. 

Coun Scargill was found to have breached the authority’s codes on respecting colleagues, bringing his role into disrepute, and the misuse of council resources. 

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In a written statement to the council’s standards committee, coun Scargill said: “I have felt from the beginning that I acted legitimately as a campaigner even if the style of campaigning was not to the taste of some colleagues. But the accusations that have been made against me, particularly about interpreting a publicly available YouTube video as a “resource”, are bizarre. 

“It was never my intention to cause offence to Norma, and whilst the editing was meant to highlight the point it was not meant to be offensive.”

The authority’s standards committee has told Coun Scargill to apologise to Mayor Redfearn in writing and requests he undergo social media training