Wales politics

'Double standards' over Leanne Wood swear word tweet reprimand

Sir Roderick Evans
Image caption Sir Roderick Evans became standards commissioner in 2017

The man overseeing AMs' code of conduct has been accused of "double-standards", by a senior Labour politician.

Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle called Sir Roderick Evans's recommendation that the assembly reprimands ex-Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood "extraordinary".

Ms Wood had used a swear word to criticise a blogger in a tweet.

Ms Neagle contrasted the commissioner's ruling with a previous decision "not to sanction a male AM who made a video of a female colleague as a buxom barmaid".

Standards Commissioner Sir Roderick decided Rhondda AM Ms Wood broke assembly rules when she used a swear word to respond to an online blogger.

She said she was challenging "misogynistic bullying" - a charge the blogger denies.

Ms Neagle said: "Women politicians face online abuse every day - Leanne Wood responded in a direct and human way to an attack on a female colleague.

"I think as women representatives it is right that we stand together, across party lines, against this abuse."

Image caption Lynne Neagle chairs the assembly's Children, Young People and Education Committee

Ms Wood's tweet came after Royston Jones, a blogger who goes by the name Jac O' The North, criticised Delyth Jewell's confirmation as Plaid AM for South Wales East.

"Women's rights and international development. God help Plaid Cymru," Mr Jones said, referring to Ms Jewell's stated areas of interest.

Ms Wood quote-tweeted the message, sharing it with her followers and adding: "Do you have to be an arsehole all the time? Have a day off."

Ms Wood has refused to apologise and does not accept the reprimand, which would have to be agreed by the assembly in a vote.

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said: "The Plaid Cymru group backs Leanne Wood and will oppose the censure."

Image caption Leanne Wood has had support from Plaid Cymru and Labour AMs

A spokesperson on behalf of the standards commissioner responded: "The role of the standards commissioner is to receive and investigate complaints made against assembly members, then report to the standards committee.

"The commissioner's report on this matter sets out the findings of his investigation.

"The cross-party standards committee, which includes a member of the Plaid Cymru group, has considered the commissioner's report and decided that a breach has been found and that the member should be censured."

Image caption Hefin David apologised for his comments on social media and will face no further action

Sir Roderick's initial finding that a video by UKIP AM Mr Bennett, which depicted Labour's Joyce Watson as a "buxom barmaid", led to an outcry.

He did not believe it to be sexist. Mr Bennett was later banned from the Senedd for a week after Sir Roderick handed the matter over to another individual for investigation.

Meanwhile, Labour Caerphilly AM Hefin David has also been found to be in breach of the code of conduct for assembly members after he used "a term of vulgar abuse" to refer to a Plaid Cymru councillor online.

He called Vaughan Williams, an "utter knob" and a "coc oen", which means "lamb's cock" in Welsh.

Dr David has apologised and AMs on the cross-party Standards Committee decided that was a "sufficient outcome for the breach in question".

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