After using “entirely offensive and gratuitous” language on Twitter towards two members of the public, a former SNP councillor was found to have violated the Councillors’ Code of Conduct.
Gregor Murray, a former Dundee City Councillor, was censured by a watchdog after being found to have been disrespectful to a council officer.
Murray, Scotland’s only transgender councillor, identifies as non-binary, which means he or she uses they/them pronouns and does not identify as a man or a woman.
A hearing of the Standards Commission for Scotland today looked into the comments and posts they made on Twitter in March and April 2022, as well as emails they sent to a council officer.
The Panel also heard that there was no dispute that former councillor Murray referred to another member of the public as a “c*nt” in a tweet on March 27, 2022.
The Panel heard that after receiving notification in an email from a senior council officer that complaints about their Twitter posts had been made, Murray responded by saying, “Go and tell someone who gives a f*ck,” adding, “for the avoidance of doubt, this does not include myself.”
They also stated, “If I ever wanted to hear from more extremely overpaid, overprivileged, cishet white men in politics, who actively work to exclude marginalised communities, I have absolutely no shortage to choose from.”
The Councillors’ Code of Conduct requires councillors to treat colleagues, council officers and members of the public with courtesy and respect.
Murray told the hearing that they believed comments from the members of the public had been transphobic.
However, the panel found that, even if this was a genuinely held belief, it did not mean Murray was entitled to direct profanities and derogatory terms towards them in a public forum and “they could have expressed their views and opinions, without resorting to profanities and personal abuse.”
Findings from the panel said it “agreed that not only did the [council] officer have every right to contact former Cllr Murray to advise them that complaints about them had been received, it was also fair and courteous for him to have done so.
“The Panel was satisfied that the officer’s emails were entirely professional and respectful, both in tone and content, and considered that former councillor Murray’s replies were entirely inappropriate and disrespectful.”
It added: “The Panel noted that it was not in dispute that former councillor Murray had made reference in their response to their assumptions about the officer’s personal characteristics, including his race, gender identity and sexual orientation.
“The Panel was satisfied that former councillor Murray was indicating that their refusal to engage was based, at least in part, on their assumptions about these characteristics.”
Murray was found to have violated a section in the Code that specifies that councillors must not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of the numerous protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, which include race, gender, and sexual orientation.
The hearing conclusions went on to declare that Murray had displayed no remorse or comprehension of the impact of their actions on others.
The panel said it would have imposed a “lengthy suspension” as an appropriate sanction but could not because Murray is no longer a councillor.
It therefore censured Murray.
Mr Walker added: “The Standards Commission considers that councillors should be able to express their views and opinions without resorting to profanities and personal abuse.”
Murray previously appeared before the Standards Commission in after making remarks on Twitter to a member of the public that the panel found “disrespectful” and amounting to “harassment”.
However, given the former SNP politician’s right to free expression, the committee concluded that a formal finding of a breach of the code of conduct and application of discipline “could not be justified.”
Murray was previously entangled in an internal SNP squabble following a complaint from SNP MSP Joan McAlpine over Twitter harassment she said she experienced.