Friday, April 17, 2009

"Climate Change Taliban" Decision Notice

The GLA's assessment Sub Committee met on 1st April to consider six complaints relating to my reporting of the March Peoples' Question Time, specifically my use of the phrase Climate Change Taliban, which they alleged was offensive. The chair of the sub committee has now signed off the decision notice which concludes that NO FURTHER ACTION is to be taken.

The full notice contains details of the complainants and their statements, and quotes the relevant paragraphs of the code of conduct so I don't propose to reproduce it all here. Full copies are published by the GLA if needed.

I will, however, quote the section that gives reasons for their decision:

The Sub-Committee noted that the blog identified Mr Evans as an Assembly Member, but found as a matter of fact that the blog was not hosted by the GLA's website or server, and was not published by the GLA. There was no official GLA connection to the blog. It also found that, whilst the blog related to Peoples' Question Time (a GLA event which Mr Evans attended as an Assembly Member), it was a personal blog in which Mr Evans was commenting on Peoples' Question Time after the actual event. For these reasons, the Sub-Committee decided that, in producing and publishing the blog, Mr Evans was not conducting the business of the GLA, and nor was he acting, claiming to act or giving impression that he was acting as a representative of the GLA. He was not therefore acting in an official capacity and was not required to comply with, and could not have breached, paragraphs 3(1) - 3(2)(b) of the Code.

After having decided this, the Sub-Committee proceeded to consider whether Mr Evans' conduct was a breach of paragraph 5 of the Code of Conduct.

Paragraph 5 - "You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or the authority into disrepute."

The reason it considered this is because this paragraph of the Code applies to, and can be breached by, Members even when they are not acting in an official capacity. Accordingly, if the Sub-Committee considered that Mr Evans' blog had brought his office or the GLA into disrepute, it could have decided to take further action against him. The majority of the Sub-Committee did not find the phrase 'Climate Change Taliban' offensive, and the Sub-Committee decided unanimously that the blog did not breach paragraph 5 of the Code.

For these reasons, the Assessment Sub-Committee decided that no further action should be taken on the complaints.

The first section of this judgement is particularly interesting as it accepts that unofficial blogs which are not subsidised by public funds enjoy considerable latitude when it comes to reporting official occasions. Thus reassured that the Standards Committee are not seeking to censor output, other elected representatives might care to grasp the opportunity to communicate afforded by blogs and other online media.


judith said...

I'm very glad this nonsense has been put to bed.

Who was so offended in the first place? The Taliban's representative to the Court of St James, or an AGW climate-change believer who will not tolerate dissent?

Rog T said...

Roger, I disagree with you regarding climate change, but I hardly think this is a standards issue.

Here's my take on it :-
Roger is wrong but rightI recall at a recent Barnet Council meeting, Maureen Braun asked the Mayor, John Marshall, to censor a Labour member who called her stupid. His response was that if you can't call another councillor stupid, then they all should pack up and go home.

Anonymous said...

You are as arogant as you are ignorant.
You believe that just because the GLA who can't have bad prees clear you that you are in the right.

The GLA should be ashamed of the attitude that they and you have to local community groups who fight for the wellbeing of residents.


Roger Evans said...

Anonymous, I was willing to compromise back in March but the protestors demanded a ruling and now they will have to live with it.

They will also have to live with my active support for LCA from now on, even though I was neutral on the subject until recently - such has been the effect of their brilliant strategy...

Rog T said...

Hey Roger,

I'd not heard of the LCA so I googled it. Why has the judgement made you suddenly support the "Legalise Cannabis alliance" - I know it's stressfull dealing with these issues but it's really not very sensible to start dabbling in these things at your age.

Roger Evans said...

Rog, I told you I'm getting more libertarian as I get older...

Anonymous said...

Roger - Are you now saying that you are happy now to support an airport expansion because a few people complained about you? Who never took any notice of you until you saw fit to pass judgement on them?
It really is a sad day when a politician deems it fit and appropriate to support the subjection of 1000s of people to noise and pollution because a few people complained about you?
Is this what the Tories are becoming?
Can you confirm if David Cameron did indeed slap you down for the remarks? If so did he find the offensive?

Anonymous said...

"The majority of the Sub-Committee did not find the phrase 'Climate Change Taliban' offensive.

So a minority of the committee did find it offensive then?

weggis said...

You do appear to be saying that your support for the LCA is born out of spite or pique rather than objective analysis?

Anonymous said...

Roger you always supported the airport expansion! Why are you playing immature games? Why else would you have insulted local residents who were 'legally and peacefully' campaigning to stop the expansion by calling them the climate change Taliban?

I suspect they are not all interested in the wider global environmental issues, but those issues which they have to live with. Perhaps your criticisms may be better focussed on an airport which breached its planning conditions for 8 years on noise and air monitoring?

Or do you just dislike anyone who doesn't practice apathy and gets up off their bottom and does something for their community?

Most of all your lack of respect for residents is quite astounding and will not help your party one bit.

Time to grow up Roger, don't be childish, otherwise I'll have to take your Curly Wurly away.

Roger Evans said...

Weggis, if anyone from the protest group had approached me with a logical argument to support their views your suggestion might hold water. Unfortunately there has never been the slightest attempt on their part to engage positively. My experience has been of threats, disrupting meetings and reporting me to anyone they think might shut me up.

And I'm not alone. The Fight The Flights website is filled with abuse and invective levelled at local politicians including the leader of Newham Council and their own MP. There are also cheap attacks on airport staff who can't answer back. Any campaigner who thinks that "Climate Change Taliban" is immature and insulting should take a good long look at the content of their own site.

Good lobbying seeks to get opinion formers on your side, not to alienate them.

Rog T said...


Just out of interest, surely you are out of step with Theresa Villiers policy re short haul flights. As I understand it, she's pushing for high speed rail links to replace many shorter flights.

Am I correct in thinking you disagree with Villiers policy re reducing flights?

Roger Evans said...

Rog T - I don't disagree with Theresa on the desirability of high speed rail as an alternative to short haul flights. I use Eurostar when I travel abroad and I'm pleased we have adopted this policy. However it will take time to implement so I support Boris in his decision to allow the London City Airport plans to go ahead.

Weggis - actually I do think that protest groups have a responsibility to engage more positively with politicians. They owe that not to me but to the people they aspire to represent. Barkingside 21 understand that and although we don't always agree, we do listen to each other and work well together.

I should also clarify my use of the word 'threats' in my last comment. Of course campaigners have not been threatening me with anything illegal, but their approach has been consistantly one of 'if you don't support us you will be voted out', which looks like a threat from where I'm standing.