Councillor who swore using F-word in live broadcast refuses to apologise

Councillor Peter Cawthron

Councillor Peter Cawthron - Credit: Tendring District Council

A councillor who dropped the 'F bomb' at a meeting broadcast live has been sanctioned after failing repeatedly to either apologise.

Tendring councillor Peter Cawthron, Tendring (UKIP, Coppins) admitted using the word during a full council meeting on November 24 last year, over plans to ensure mitigation measures were in place for the impact of public firework displays.

The newly-installed Clacton Pier wheel experience shines bright on one of the bank holiday fireworks displays

Peter Cawthron's use of the F-word during a debate on firework displays in Tendring caused more fireworks afterwards - Credit: Kev Jay Photography

After a vote was carried Mr Cawthron appeared to mutter the offending word to himself.

He later told council officials he thought it was more acceptable as a word than in the past.

John Austin, who had been asked to externally independently investigate the matter by council monitoring officer Lisa Hastings, said in his summary: “My view is that councillor Cawthron probably uttered the offending word out of frustration at the outcome of the vote.

“I do not think he directed it at any individual or group. He may also have thought his microphone was muted. It is a relatively common mistake during remote meetings.

“I do not however accept councillor Cawthron’s explanation that the word is more acceptable today than it was decades ago.

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“It might arguably be more commonly used in everyday life but it is not acceptable in his position as a councillor in a formal council meeting.

“I concur with the monitoring officer when she told councillor Cawthron that the word remains a swear word and an expression of profanity within the English language and is still regarded as highly offensive within many settings.

“The correct course of action would have been for councillor Cawthron to apologise immediately. He failed to do that.

“He also failed subsequently to agree a suitable apology with the monitoring officer after initially indicating his willingness to do so. Had he had done so, it would probably have been the end of the matter.

“By his actions during and after the council meeting, I therefore find sufficient evidence to show that councillor Cawthron conducted himself in a manner that could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office or the authority into disrepute.”

The standards committee heard that the council had tried to engage on at least seven different occasions, without response.

Mr Cawthron was not present at the meeting.

The group agreed to publish its findings in respect of Mr Cawthron’s conduct on the council’s website as sanction one and report its findings to full council for information as sanction two.

Chairman Dan Land said: “We as a group have come to a conclusion we would like to propose sanctions one and two are enacted and a statement is also put together from this committee in relation to further matters of the code and his inability to engage with the efforts of the council.”

The motion was unanimously agreed.

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