A CITY leader who said she hopes Margaret Thatcher “burns in hell” will not be disciplined.
Councillor Florence Anderson made the comment on the Facebook website, while the 85-year-old ex-Prime Minister was in hospital with flu.
The incident sparked a flood of letters to the Echo, both criticising and supporting the deputy leader of Sunderland Council.
It was also reported to Standards for England, a national body responsible for maintaining high ethical standards in local democracy, which investigates possible Code of Conduct breaches.
However, it has backed Coun Anderson’s argument that she was not on official business when on the social networking website.
A spokeswoman said: “We decided that there would be no further action with regard to that referral.
“When Councillor Anderson made the comments we didn’t think she was acting in her official capacity as a councillor, therefore her right to freedom of expression means there is no breach of the code.”
Coun Anderson, who led the Eppleton Area Miners’ Wives Support Group during the 1984-85 strike, made her comment in a discussion thread open to the public about the Facebook group “stop Margaret Thatcher getting royal send off”.
Coun Anderson today said she was pleased with the ruling.
“It agreed that I was in no way acting in an official capacity and I feel vindicated by that.
“There were quite serious implications if elected members cannot have a private life and private discussions, without that being interpreted as acting in an official capacity and implicating the council, which it never was.”
A complaint was also made about Sunderland Conservatives leader, Coun Tony Morrissey, over comments on his Facebook page that were alleged to be “disrespectful” to Coun Anderson and “brought his position into disrepute”.
He wrote: “I think I’ll say something stupid and irresponsible. Oh no, I’ve just remembered I’m an elected representative on Sunderland Council.”
He also commented on items on Coun Anderson’s Facebook page, over links which contained derogatory remarks about Sunderland.
That complaint too was referred by Sunderland Council’s assessment sub-committee to Standards for England, and was also rejected for the same reason as the complaint about Coun Anderson.
A spokeswoman said: “It is clear that, when Councillor Morrissey posted comments on his Facebook page, he was not in fact acting in an official capacity.
“Councillor Morrissey’s comments relate to initial comments posted by the member on their own Facebook page, and it is felt that Councillor Morrissey’s subsequent comments are unlikely to be mistaken for a statement made in his official capacity as a councillor.”
Following the decision, Coun Morrissey said he was glad Standards for England was to be abolished.
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by the coalition Government.
“I don’t think it has done anything to improve local democracy, so in a way I’m glad both complaints were thrown out.”