Thursday, 10 July 2008

Christopher Glamorganshire: What a price to pay for freedom of speech

I'm running late with this story. You mustn't blame me as I'm busy packing for the big move this weekend and have taken a back seat from blogging for a short while - still managing the odd post as I review the papers.

It seems that 'Christopher Glamorganshire' was sacked from the Welsh Assembly Government civil service for blogging. I'm not familiar with the blog but have seen a link to 'Glamorganshire' on the blogs of many others. Sadly, it no longer allows you access.

A few months ago there was a rumour about a Welsh Civil Servant having been sacked, and comments of that nature were even made on this blog. I've noticed that there seems to be a healthy community spirit in the blogging community and a number of compliments have been made today, with the following among them:

It seems that either these known and respected Welsh bloggers are wrong in their assessment of 'Glamorganshire' or the Welsh Assembly Government has grossly overreacted, leaving the individual to resort to an Employment Tribunal in order to obtain justice.

This all seems unfair to me, but best of luck to you 'Christopher'. Like any large organisation, the Assembly Government will - without a shadow of doubt - put their whole legal team behind the case, and solicitors are costly, so I fear that you'll need more than fair play, luck, and common sense on your side.

Here is the full article from today's Western Mail:

AN Assembly Government civil servant who was sacked for running a political blog is taking his case to an Employment Tribunal.

Last night a former AM who himself is a regular blogger said he found the decision to dismiss the civil servant “heavy handed”.

The former Assembly Government employee, whose real name has not been disclosed but who ran a blog called Christopher Glamorganshire, provided what readers saw as a neutral running commentary on last year’s coalition negotiations involving Labour and Plaid Cymru.

An Assembly Government spokesman said:

This issue regards a former Welsh Assembly Government employee who was dismissed for activities related to the Glamorganshire Blog that contravened the Civil Service Code. The case went to the Civil Service Appeals Board, which we won, and it is listed for Employment Tribunal in Cardiff later this year.
It is understood the elements of the Civil Service Code regarded by the Assembly Government as relevant to the case come under sections headed “integrity” and “rights and responsibilities”.

Under integrity, the relevant clauses read: “You must always act in a way that is professional and that deserves and retains the confidence of all those with whom you have dealings,” and: “You must not misuse your official position, for example by using information acquired in the course of your official duties to further your private interests or those of others.”

Under rights and responsibilities, the clause considered to have been broken states: “This Code is part of the contractual relationship between you and your employer. It sets out the high standards of behaviour expected of you which follow from your position in public and national life as a civil servant. You can take pride in living up to these values.”

Last night former Conservative AM Glyn Davies, a regular blogger, said:

The Christopher Glamorganshire blog was on my list of ‘my favourites’. It seemed to me to be written in a sensible and rational manner. Clearly, if his contract of employment said he was not allowed to blog, he doesn’t have much of a case.

But if it is simply a question of supposedly contravening the code, I think sacking him is very harsh and heavy handed.

This all smacks of the heavy hand of the state.

46 comments:

Anonymous 10 July 2008 at 08:54  

Glyn Davies talks a lot of common sense. It's bound to be the Assembly reacting in an over controlling way. Perish the thought that someone has an opinion these days.

Black cat 10 July 2008 at 09:09  

Why wasn't Peter Black asked for his opinion? Isn't he the Welsh blogfather?

Anonymous 10 July 2008 at 09:12  

"This issue regards a former Welsh Assembly Government employee who was dismissed for activities related to the Glamorganshire Blog that contravened the Civil Service Code. The case went to the Civil Service Appeals Board, which we won, and it is listed for Employment Tribunal in Cardiff later this year."

Isn't it a case that the Civil Service Appeals Board will look after its own? Being an internal appeal process, they're unlikely to overturn a departmental decision to sack someone.

Jake Evans 10 July 2008 at 09:23  

Like it says in the paper. The blog provided a "neutral running commentary".

What sort of excuse is that to dismiss someone? Let's face it, he was sacked for blogging, and we all know that the Assembly is scared of people blogging as there's no control.

Valleys Mam 10 July 2008 at 10:13  

Chris G was humorous well written and one of my favourites. The Civil Sevice makes up its rules as it goes. How about sacking a few people for non delivery and just not being up to the job ------ ahhh aghast
Peter Black -will he comment I wonder

James 10 July 2008 at 12:24  

Well said Valleys Mam. Getting rid of those that don't deliver sounds like a good start.

Anonymous 10 July 2008 at 12:26  

Good on him for standing up for freedom of speech.

CS 10 July 2008 at 12:28  

The Assembly has to move with the times. As long as no-one reveals any confidential information, they should be free to blog. We all have opinions. Let them be heard.

Alun from Cardiff 10 July 2008 at 12:51  

Christopher Glamorgan is missed he wrote an excellent blog.

Will he be back? Perhaps we should encourage him or is he keeping all the good stuff for the tribunal.

Anonymous 10 July 2008 at 12:52  

Peter Black if I remember was outspoken against Huw Lewis and Leighton Andrews on AMs blogging.

union through and through 10 July 2008 at 13:33  

As someone who has dealt with the Civil Service Appeals Board I can confirm that they rarely overturn a decision to dismiss.

Miss Wagstaff 10 July 2008 at 14:26  

I'm so shocked that yet another blogger has been sacked.

Anonymous 10 July 2008 at 14:34  

I've read on MOF's blog that he was sacked in Autumn 2007. Does this mean that he was the first to be sacked from the Assembly. This also predates Civil Serf's sacking.

http://miserableoldfart.blogspot.com/2008/07/all-best-chris.html

Anonymous 10 July 2008 at 14:55  

Did you know Christopher Glamorganshire? What's the gossip?

Matt Wardman 10 July 2008 at 19:01  

>This also predates Civil Serf's sacking.

I'm not aware that Civil Serf was sacked in the end. Any citation?

On Christopher Glamorganshire, it looks as if the WAG has got its nuts in a cracker.

They (on this occasion) need to learn from the way the English - and Tom Watson in particular - handled it.

http://tinyurl.com/6hwwxl

inside out 10 July 2008 at 22:17  

Always a good read and fun. Why on earth was it taken so seriously by the Assembly Government? Control freaks the lot of them.

Anonymous 10 July 2008 at 22:36  

I think he was a thinking young man I hope he find what he wants too. Christopher Glamorganshire was epic

Big Brother 10 July 2008 at 22:51  

It's rumoured that you're also an Assembly blogger Miss W. No wonder they banned your blog internally.

Don't forget to look over your shoulder in work as we don't want to see you leave us so soon.

Linda 10 July 2008 at 23:01  

This is very surprising, particularly as the Welsh Assembly Government recently allowed a member of staff to resign after being found guilty in court of sexually harrassing a colleague.

The man in question was even allowed to stay in the workplace while an investigation was underway.

Now we hear that someone has been sacked for having a neutral blog. What's the world coming to

Anonymous 10 July 2008 at 23:18  

Having worked in the Assembly for seven years I know that they will be foolish to let it go to tribunal.

A tribunal is a public court and in my time in the Assembly I've seen more dirt than your average allotment. I expect this is the case for most staff.

Christopher Glamorganshire will be able to speak his mind without any comeback and the papers will have a field day with the outcome.

Anonymous 11 July 2008 at 00:23  

the civil service code is quite clear on what can and can't be commented on - even though he was politically neutral it was more the fact that he was blogging in work that was the issue. In work time, and apparetly it was hours when he shoukd have been working, what employer wouldn't have issues with this!!! I know at least two regular civil service bloggers, but from home!!!

Anonymous 11 July 2008 at 00:37  

Anonymous 00:23

You sound like you know who he is. Are you in human resources?

Anonymous 11 July 2008 at 00:44  

Having experience in these matters, a member of staff wouldn't be dismissed for "blogging in work" as you put it. It would be a disciplinary offence, but not resulting in dismissal. Unless ofcourse he was on probation such as in the first year of a contract.

We either haven't been told all the facts, or he was simply dismissed for blogging as suggested in the Western Mail.

Anonymous 11 July 2008 at 01:31  

Good blog or not, it was a bit stupid to do it from work..... outside I'm sure it wouldn't have been raised, but to be sat at your desk supposedly being paid to work and writing a blog, come on.

Miss Wagstaff 11 July 2008 at 08:24  

Some of you were up very late last night. Couldn't you sleep?

We have to remember that an Assembly Government spokesman said:

"This issue regards a former Welsh Assembly Government employee who was dismissed for activities related to the Glamorganshire Blog that contravened the Civil Service Code."

Nothing actually to do with blogging at work. By the way, the Civil Service Code is available online.

I have to agree with Anonymous 00:44 as they make a very good point. So do many others.

Miss Wagstaff 11 July 2008 at 08:26  

P.S. I did spend a considerable amount of time in human resources (not in the Assembly, before you ask).

Anonymous 11 July 2008 at 08:48  

I agree Miss W. Can't remember reading that he was sacked for blogging at work. People have done far worse and not been sacked. Have these people not read the papers lately?

Smithy 11 July 2008 at 09:03  

We should start a Facebook group. Bringing justice to the Welsh Assembly Government. Protect the Welsh 1 from the nasty corporate machine :)

Anonymous 12 July 2008 at 00:48  

As Matt Wardman has said:

The interesting angle for me is the difference in approach between England and Wales.

After Civil Serf, they started talking to bloggers on this side of the border.

http://tinyurl.com/58xb8z

Dube 12 July 2008 at 06:29  

Hey! Someone just visited my blog from yours and asked if I knew anything about this. :-) I don't, but I really like your coverage of it in this post.

Sadly, here in the U.S., a lot of people get fired from their jobs for blogging too, often for completely innocent blogs. I know one person a few years back who was warned to stop blogging "or else."

If his blog really is neutral like they say, the sacking was truly an extreme overreaction. Very sad.

Peter Black 12 July 2008 at 15:12  

"Why wasn't Peter Black asked for his opinion? Isn't he the Welsh blogfather?"

Er..no, what is a blogfather? I was not asked my opinion as (a) these are not matters for elected representatives. They are dealt with according to the civil service code by civil servants with no political input; and (b) I am an Assembly member and a member of the Assembly Commission. From the reports Christopher Glamorganshire worked for the Welsh Assembly Government which is quite separate.

"Peter Black if I remember was outspoken against Huw Lewis and Leighton Andrews on AMs blogging."

What does this mean. I have always encouraged other AMs to blog, even Leighton Andrews!

Justin 12 July 2008 at 21:49  

Englang and Wales - miles aoart in approach and enlightenment.

Anonymous 12 July 2008 at 21:50  

England and Wales - miles apart in approach and enlightenment.

Anonymous 12 July 2008 at 22:23  

that's a bit 'middle of the road' Peter

Anonymous 13 July 2008 at 00:15  

Peter, don't be an arse. Either you talk about blogging or you don't. You can't pick and choose the situation.

Anonymous 13 July 2008 at 00:19  

Ideally, Marcus Warner would talk about his perspective to give us some idea as to what's going on.

Peter Black 13 July 2008 at 00:35  

"Peter, don't be an arse. Either you talk about blogging or you don't. You can't pick and choose the situation."

Sorry, we appear to be talking at cross purposes. I understood that I was being asked why I did not have a say on the disciplinary situation and responded accordingly. If you want my opinion on Christopher Glamorganshire I am happy to give it.

I do not know all the facts but it seems that he was very harshly treated. There should be no problem with civil servant blogging provided they meet the current guidance. i.e. they do so under their own name and do not compromise their position at work. That is a personal view.

Anonymous 13 July 2008 at 20:13  

Having a blogger as a Cabinet Minister has led to some unlooked for public goods. One of them is the particularly useful and laconic guidelines for civil servants who want to blog. Good man Tom Watson!

Maybe he would have a word or two with his counterparts in Wales, who work under similar, but much more complicated rules, and don't have the same quality of political leadership on the matter

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/mick_fealty/blog/2008/07/11/in_wales_they_sack_bloggers_dont_they

Oscar 13 July 2008 at 22:05  

And now of course normal mouth has gone!

Anonymous 13 July 2008 at 23:24  

"And now of course normal mouth has gone!"

I'm sure there's no connection.

Preston 13 July 2008 at 23:27  

"I do not know all the facts but it seems that he was very harshly treated. There should be no problem with civil servant blogging provided they meet the current guidance. i.e. they do so under their own name and do not compromise their position at work"

Christopher Glamorganshire and Civil Serf blogged before the current guidance was set up. Glamorganshire was sacked last year. No one knows what happened to Civil Serf this year.

Anonymous 14 July 2008 at 13:39  

Rumour has it that Civil Serf wasn't sacked. For ENGLAND, DO NOT see WALES.

Valleys Mam 14 July 2008 at 13:54  

So u think Normal Mouth is a civil servant who has jumped in case he gets sacked.
I thought he worked for Leighton Andrewsor Chris Bryant in RCT - didnt he say he was elnlish and worked in RCT with a political connection

Anonymous 14 July 2008 at 14:40  

People were talking about this in the staff canteen. No one seems to know exactly what went on as I keep on hearing different stories. Some say he blogged at work and others say he was made an example of, to stop others from doing the same.

If we knew the division he worked in the truth will come out. I should think his former colleagues know the reason.

Anonymous 15 July 2008 at 15:55  

Why doesn't stick a Freedom of Information request in to the Welsh Assembly Government? Simple.

Matt Wardman 15 July 2008 at 22:39  

VM>
"So u think Normal Mouth is a civil servant who has jumped in case he gets sacked."

Normal Mouth stated in his closing post:

"Contrary to such innuendo I am not in breach of any guidelines relating to my employment, nor am I a civil servant. In fact, I have explicitly gained written approval from my employer to maintain both this blog and my Golwg column. What is clear, however, is that it is no longer tenable for me to continue to blog without the question of who I am persistently clouding what I say. I take that to be very largely my fault, for not setting out arguments that people feel are worth responding to on their merits alone."

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