Skip to main content

'Do as I say not as I do': Scotland's police union leader has banned social media abuse after he used Twitter to launch offensive personal attack ... Federation boss Calum Steele was found guilty of trolling Angela Wilson but now threatens to sack staff ... Fears the new rules could silence criticism of Steele and his Scottish Police Federation regime

A POLICE union boss found guilty of abusing a female ex-police chief on Twitter is threatening to sack staff if they misuse social media.

Scottish Police Federation general secretary Calum Steele has issued new rules to employees and local police reps about how to communicate.

It comes after Police Scotland upheld a complaint against Steele over his “inappropriate and offensive” Twitter tirade against former assistant chief constable Angela Wilson.

Steele branded her “one of the most incompetent imbeciles ever to have held rank in the police service” and a “buffoon” and falsely alleged that a corruption inquiry “extended” to her.

He then refused to apologise or delete the tweets.

Last month Steele, who represents 18,500 members, issued the four-page policy to all staff and reps who represent officers across Scotland.

They have been told they can use Tweeter, Facebook and other social media for work purposes —  but not for "bullying or harassment of any individual”. A serious breach of the police could result in sacking. 

It states: “How you communicate with people not only reflects on you as an individual but also on the organisation.”

All communications must be cleared in advance by the federation’s four most senior bosses, including Steele and vice-chair David Hamilton.

Yet Steele, Hamilton and the two other bosses are exempt from the approval process.

Hamilton was also found guilty of inappropriate tweets after branding Brexit backers ‘slightly thick and slightly racist muppets’. He later deleted the tweet after numerous complaints were upheld.

Some officers fear the policy could silence internal debate and legitimate questions about the leadership.

Staff and reps are banned from “criticising or arguing with members, supervisors, colleagues or rivals” and “making defamatory comments about individuals or the SPF or any of its committees or other bodies”.

A former rep, who cannot be named, said: “Steele and his cohorts seem more interested in shutting down debate. What if this policy was extended to include every single federation member?

Wilson, who was targeted after raising concerns about Chief Constable Iain Livingstone’s past allegations of sexual assault, said: “Given Calum Steele’s abusive online behaviour towards me and refusal to apologise, this new policy could be seen as ‘do as I say not as I do’.

It should be welcomed if it gives clarity about what is and is not acceptable but I am not convinced that lessons have been learned.

“Worryingly, these rules introduce an effective ban on criticism of the SPF and its leadership. A sign of good leadership is encouraging constructive criticism.

“In addition, they do not define what is meant by bullying. By failing to define it, this could also be used to silence legitimate debate. Bullying is not the same as having a different view than the general secretary.

“It is also interesting that SPF staff and reps need approval before making any communication — with the exception of the general secretary and three other senior officials.

“Why are only those at the top not covered by some parts of the rules. Who holds them to account?

Another concern is the revelation that the federation can gather and store information about social media use for three years and can block access during work time.

During the investigation into Steele, it emerged that he sent the Wilson tweets while on duty.


EMPLOYMENT LAWYER WARNS: DON’T IGNORE DANGERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA

David Morgan, a partner at law firm Burness Paull LLP said: 

"For me, social media is just part of the conversation.  Employers ignore it at their peril.

"The balance that must be struck is to remind reps and staff that the laws of the land apply equally to what is said online.

"It is therefore no surprise that that SPF has introduced a policy to address acceptable use of social media.

"Disputes most often arise from posts made outside of work or on personal devices.  The courts have told us that there can be no expectation of privacy when it comes to social media.

“Employees represent their employer in all that they do —including on social media — and the risk of damage to reputation and claims for defamation or discrimination is just as likely in this ‘extension of the workplace’ when posts are linked back to an employee or rep’s role for their employer.


“Warren Buffett famously said that it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. When it comes to a hasty social media post, the damage can be done in five seconds."

A version of this report was first published in the Sunday Mail newspaper on 30 September 2018






Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Meet Alex Salmond's expensive legal team ... Crowdfunded cash will bankroll Court of Session battle against Nicola Sturgeon's government ... But spare a thought for the two women who made complaints of sexual misconduct against the former First Minister

MUCH has been written about how the #MeToo phenomenon which began in Holywood was confounded in Holyrood with Alex Salmond’s ugly but effective reframing of himself as the victim following allegations of sexual misconduct by two women.
Plenty has also been said about the chutzpah of a wealthy former First Minister passing round an online begging bowl — stuffed with gusto by the blindly loyal — to pay his legal bills.
But so far little is known about the crowdfunded team behind the impending judicial review of how the Scottish Government handled the complaints made against Salmond.
Thanks to other people’s £100,007, he can afford a lot of expensive lawyers. Senior counsel Ronnie Clancy QC will lead in court. At his side will be advocate Duncan Hamilton, a former SNP MSP.
Central to shaping Salmond’s case is the law firm Levy & McRae and its partner David McKie. Those who take an interest in the plots and personalities of Scotland’s legal profession will be familiar with the Glasgow-bas…

For 22 years PC Karen Harper proudly served the public ... But after complaining about bullying she was targeted in a sinister 'black op' ... Karen was innocent but her carer was destroyed ... The brave whistleblower today breaks her silence to accuse Police Scotland of acting like the Mafia ... And she slams the Scottish Government for creating the toxic culture in policing

An innocent police officer claims she was forced from her job after colleagues waged a secret ‘black op’ to fit her up.
Karen Harper, 50, was allegedly bullied over flexible working hours following the death of her mother.
When she complained about a sergeant she says Police Scotland ordered a ‘fishing expedition’ in a sinister bid to criminalise her and trash her reputation.
Whistleblower Karen — cleared of any wrongdoing — today breaks her silence six months after the end of her unblemished 22-year police career through ill health.
She compares Police Scotland’s senior ranks to the Mafia and criticises politicians and regulators for failing to hold them to account.
She said: “These people destroyed my career and stole three years of my life. The biggest issue is the lack of trust.
“Integrity in policing is essential, especially at the very top but these people are protected. It’s like taking on the Mafia.
“This breeds resentment in the ranks and tarnishes the reputation of the majority of …

Police Scotland's former chief constable allegedly told to 'hire a Scot' as his deputy ... Phil Gormley warned there would be 'political problems' if he did not ... The order left him 'deeply troubled' ... But what did PIRC and the SPA do about the discrimination claim? ... SNP government ministers face questions about alleged meddling in policing

FORMER chief constable Phil Gormley was warned there could be ‘political problems’ if a Scottish candidate was not hired as one of his deputies.
The former head of Police Scotland claims that the order came from Andrew Flanagan, then chairman of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), during a discussion about a vacant post for a deputy chief constable.
During the meeting last September, Gormley was allegedly told ‘there would be major presentational and political problems if either of the two internal (Scottish) candidates were passed over given how this would impact on the proportion of senior officers who were of Scottish national origin’.
In a document seen by The Times newspaper, Gormley said: “He [Flanagan] indicated that Scottish Government were party to these concerns. As a senior officer of English national origin myself, this concerned me. The national origin of any candidate (from within the United Kingdom) should have no bearing on the selection process.
“This issue and the very …

JUDGES FOR SALE: Special investigation into top lawmen being lured with big money jobs in Qatar and the UAE ... Lord McGhie has been with Abu Dhabi court for past two years while ALSO sitting in the Court of Session in Edinburgh ... Veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, cross-party MSPs and Dubai torture victim accuse them of legitimising despotic regimes ...

TOP judges are accused of selling the reputation of Scottish justice by working for Middle East countries with toxic human rights records.
Two judges are on the payroll of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where domestic violence against women is legal and where regime critics are tortured and jailed without trial.
The most senior is Lord Hope of Craighead — Scotland’s former top judge, a member of the House of Lords and ex-deputy president of the UK Supreme Court.
Our investigation found that Lord McGhie has been registered to sit in the UAE for the past two years while he was also dispensing justice at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: "It seems highly inappropriate for Scotland's previous top judge and former deputy president of the UK Supreme Court to work for the UAE given its poor human rights record.
“He is giving legitimacy to the UAE's legal system which does not conform to international standards and is accused of su…

Buried ceramic animals, a condemned 'eco' classroom, rope structure set on fire and a community centre built from junk ... Architect Lee Ivett linked to a series of bizarre projects in some of our poorest communities ... Best selling book Poverty Safari puts spotlight on Scotland's 'poverty industry'

SCOTLAND’S ‘poverty industry’ is under the spotlight thanks to rapper Darren ‘Loki’ McGarvey’s best-selling book Poverty Safari.
McGarvey - raised in Glasgow’s Pollok - criticises well-meaning experts who descend on deprived communities with big ideas about how to fix deep-rooted social problems.
Tapping into public funds, their creative projects make little difference to the people who live there.
Reporter Russell Findlay looks at an architect behind a series of bizarre taxpayer-funded schemes in some of Scotland’s poorest areas.
>>>
LEE Ivett is no ordinary architect. Working from his Glasgow-based studio Baxendale, he is described as an ‘urbanist with a track record of developing transformational long term projects’.
Using edgy but vague buzzwords, one architectural website continues: “His mode of practice is intensely generative, developing low-budget socially-focused projects from scratch largely for marginalised communities within Scotland and beyond as a means of identifying…

Scottish Police Federation boss Calum Steele launched a toxic Twitter tirade in defence of acting Chief Constable Iain Livingstone ... He smeared ex-ACC Angela Wilson by hinting at corruption and branding her a 'buffoon' ... Police Scotland have now upheld Wilson's complaint against Steele ... Here we take a look at the latest scandal to engulf the force and the murky legal games behind the scenes

BEFORE a newspaper publishes a story, attempts are usually made to speak to the various people or organisations involved in order to allow them to respond.
It should be a straightforward, common sense process — but not always.
Sometimes people chose to play games. Lawyers are unleashed.
Take the Two Cal(l)ums — Calum Steele and his legal adviser Callum Anderson.
For the past decade, former Highland bobby PC Steele has enjoyed perks and status as general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF).
PC Steele often shares the benefit of his wisdom on Twitter.
When the BBC quizzed Police Scotland’s acting Chief Constable Iain Livingstone about allegations of sexually assaulting a junior female colleague at a police college, eyebrows were raised.
Former ACC Angela Wilson publicly questioned whether Livingstone was a suitable person to lead the crisis-stricken national force despite being cleared of the alleged crime.
Steele turned to Twitter where he branded Wilson ‘one of the most incompet…

#SCOTLAND THE FREEBIE ... Los Angeles-based social media influencers enjoy five-star freebie trips to Scotland paid for by taxpayers ... But do Twitter, YouTube and Instagram posts breach ASA and FTC advertising rules?

AMERICAN social media stars were given Government-funded, all expense paid trips to Scotland in exchange for gushing online reviews.
Four online ‘influencers’ were gifted the freebie visits and put up in five-star accommodation across the country.
But the Twitter, Instagram and YouTube posts they published were not marked as advertising, in a likely breach of US Federal Trade Commission laws.
Mary Engle, head of the FTC's advertising practices division, said: "Under FTC law, advertising should be identifiable as advertising, in whatever medium it appears.
"This means a social media post that's a promotional message rather than an independent opinion should be clearly presented as such, for example through a prominent disclosure that it is sponsored advertising.
"We issued guidance for advertisers and endorsers outlining when, why and how they must disclose their relationship so that consumers are not misled into thinking that sponsored posts are independent.”
The Scot…

National Crime Agency officers and MI5 spooks target Costa del Sol kingpin as potential Daniel v Lyons peacemaker … Extraordinary bid to end 17-year drug war being waged across central Scotland .... But factions reject plea to stop tit-for-tat bloodshed

A MAJOR criminal based in Spain has been approached by security services in a desperate bid to end the Daniel v Lyons drugs war.
The wealthy expat, who is in his 60s and was once jailed over a heroin haul in Glasgow, was asked to broker a truce between the warring families.
Both gangs - the most prominent of Scotland's 22 high level organised crime groups - have been told the approach may have come from Britain's domestic security service MI5.
The National Crime Agency (NCA), described as Britain's FBI, is understood to have been involved in the extraordinary move to end Scotland's deadliest criminal feud.
One source said: “The expat criminal was in London on business when he was approached by either the security services or the NCA.
“He was asked to use his influence by relaying the message to both sides that the bloodshed in Scotland had to end.
“Unfortunately, it seems not to have had the desired effect. There has been so much violence that neither side seems willing to b…

Crown Office prosecutors DROP case of £400m collapsed hedge fund boss Gregory King ... The lawyer and three other men were reported to prosecutors after a fraud probe into Heather Capital ... But £28.4m claim against suspended sheriff Peter Watson and some past and present Levy & McRae partners continues

CROWN prosecutors will take no action against four men following a fraud probe into a collapsed £400 million finance firm.
Lawyer Gregory King, 49, and three others were reported to the Crown by detectives who investigated his hedge fund Heather Capital which was based in the Isle of Man.
Heather, launched by King in 2005, attracted investors from around the world and loaned money to fund property deals.
Following its 2010 collapse, Heather’s liquidator Paul Duffy claimed that around £90million was unaccounted for and a police fraud probe resulted in the four men being reported to the Crown Office in April 2013.
An Isle of Man court judgement likened Heather to a ‘Ponzi’ scheme, made famous by US financier Bernie Madoff who was jailed for 150 years in 2009.
The other three reported by police were lawyer Andrew Sobolewski, of Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, Andrew Millar, of ­Cambuslang, near Glasgow, and Scott ­Carmichael, of Thorntonhall, near Glasgow.
Last year there was criticism of the Cr…

How did 'superhuman' SNP health minister manage to work 376 days in a year? Quango queen turned MSP Jeane Freeman asked to explain how she took so much taxpayers' cash from the NHS and other public bodies ...

HEALTH secretary Jeane Freeman has been urged to explain her ‘superhuman’ work record after she spent more days on quangos than there are in a year.
The SNP politician has been dubbed Scotland’s ‘quango queen’ due to the large number of posts she held with public bodies before becoming an MSP.
But she now faces questions over how much taxpayers’ money she received in the financial year 2013/14.
Our probe found that she pocketed £57,000 as a member of the Scottish Police Authority which works out at £300 for 190 days.
During the same period, she worked three days per week on the NHS National Waiting Time Centre board in Clydebank whose annual accounts show she received up to £25,000.
She also served between 20 to 30 days with the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland at a rate of  £295 per day.
If the public records are accurate, they suggest that Freeman spent up to 376 days on the public payroll during that year.
In addition, she also ran her own public affairs consultancy firm Freeman A…