Caerphilly AM Hefin David has said it is difficult for politicians not to respond to online abuse, after he was rebuked for calling someone an “utter knob” on Twitter.
Dr David was found to have breached the Welsh Assembly’s standards of conduct for his remarks, which also included the insult “coc oen” – which means lamb’s cock in Welsh.
The row began after a Welsh independence march following the Welsh football team’s win over Slovakia in March this year.
Twitter user John Poyner, from the Caerphilly constituency, posted: “Hate how football has been hijacked by this movement. Politics and sport should not be linked.”
Mr Poyner’s tweet and view was supported by Dr David, but following this, John Vaughan Williams, a Plaid Cymru member of Holyhead Town Council, replied: “Is it Welsh Labour policy or just your view that Welsh fans shouldn’t display political opinions in public?”
Dr David responded by calling Mr Williams an “utter knob” before later referring to him as a “coc oen”.
In his report, the Assembly’s standards commissioner Sir Roderick Evans said Dr David’s messages were abusive – although Dr David argued they were “insulting” rather than abusive and had been made in the “heat of the moment” while defending a constituent. As a Welsh learner, Dr David also argued that “coc oen” was a mild insult.
Dr David told Caerphilly Observer: “We as politicians receive a huge amount of abuse on Twitter and it’s sometimes difficult not to respond to it.
“I am responsible for my own social media and I always want it to be engaging and not bland.
“I’m not going to give up on using these channels but will avoid responding to aggressive messages in the future.”
The Assembly’s Standards of Conduct Committee considered Sir Roderick’s report and agreed that Dr David did breach standards of conduct. Dr David has already apologised and will face no further action.
Fellow AM Leanne Wood has also been criticised by the commissioner for posts on Twitter recently.
Ms Wood AM used strong language towards a blogger, who had made negative comments about South Wales East AM Delyth Jewell.
Ms Jewell AM used Twitter to say: “Leanne stood up for me at a time when it was difficult for me to do that for myself. I appreciated it then and I still appreciate it now.”