Posted: Wed 18th Nov 2020

North Wales PCC refuses to apologise for describing Leave voters as ‘turkeys voting for Christmas’

North Wales news and information

The North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has refused to apologise for describing voters who chose to leave the EU as “turkeys voting for Christmas”.

It comes despite the region’s police and crime panel (PCP) indicating it is set to uphold a complaint about the comments made by Plaid Cymru’s Arfon Jones on Twitter after it was raised by a member of the public.

In a tweet shared from his personal account in July this year, the former police inspector said: “Ah well, told you so back in 2016. Leavers = turkeys voting for Christmas.

“It will get worse and much more expensive not to mention a double whammy for the economy and employment. Not seeing no benefits on the horizon.”

The remarks were made in response to a post by a Labour MP, who claimed the UK’s impending departure from the EU would lead to holidays becoming more expensive and cause lengthy travel delays.

A report states the complainant felt offended by the nature of the language used by Mr Jones, who lives in Gwersyllt, Wrexham, describing it as “name calling”.

The grievance is likely to be upheld after the PCP’s complaints sub-committee recommended he should consider apologising and remove any reference to his role from his personal Twitter account.

In its proposed decision report, which has been seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the panel said: “The complaints subcommittee concluded that whilst Mr Jones refers to himself as the Police and Crime Commissioner on his personal social media page, then he cannot be acting in a purely private capacity, therefore the code of conduct applies.

“As the principles of the code of conduct should apply, then the comments made on social media were not appropriate and that the PCC had fallen short of his obligations taken as part of his oath of office, in that he agreed to treat others with dignity and respect.

“The complaints sub committee acknowledges that the complainant would be satisfied with an apology, however, the PCP is unable to tender an apology on behalf of the PCC, unless he has agreed to issue an apology; this is something the PCC could consider either directly or indirectly.”

Mr Jones has repeatedly warned about the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, which he said would cause a threat to law and order.

Stephen Hughes, chief executive of the PCC’s office, responded to the initial complaint by stating that both he and the commissioner disagreed that the issue was a conduct matter.

He said the comments were the former Wrexham councillor’s personal opinion and that he remained of the view that the UK would be “less safe” when it leaves the EU.

In a further response made via e-mail to the panel’s proposed decision, he added that Mr Jones would not be following its recommendations.

Mr Hughes said: “The PCC has noted the contents of the proposed decision report.  The PCC remains of the view that this is not a conduct issue.

“Turkeys voting for Xmas is an English idiom where one clearly votes against one’s economic interest.

“The use of a phrase to describe behaviours cannot possibly be a conduct issue.

“The PCC does not accept the rationale, decision or recommendations and will be making no further comment in relation to this matter.”

By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter

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