SNP councillor censured after calling Wings Over Scotland ‘scum’
An SNP councillor “behaved disrespectfully” when she called Wings Over Scotland blogger Stuart Campbell “scum”, a standards body has ruled.
Aberdeenshire councillor Fatima Joji has been censured by the Standards Commission for Scotland over comments made about the blogger on Twitter, now known as X.
Anne-Marie O’Hara, Standards Commission member and chair of the hearing panel, said: “In this case, the panel considered some of the comments Cllr Joji had directed towards a member of the public on social media, to be personally offensive and gratuitous.”
The row dates back to July 2022, when Joji, who narrowly lost out on becoming an SNP general election candidate, called Campbell “scum” and described him as “toxic”, saying he could “absolutely gtf” [get to f**k].
Joji, who represents Aberdeenshire's Westhill and District ward, also accused Campbell of “harassing and hounding” members of the SNP BAME [Black, Asian and minority ethnic] Network.
After a hearing, the Standards Commission said she had “behaved disrespectfully towards a member of the public”, breaching the Councillors’ Code of Conduct.
The rules require councillors to “treat their colleagues, council officers and members of the public with courtesy and respect”.
The panel accepted that Joji was “expressing a value judgement” on the harassment claim, and was covered by the right to freedom of speech under European human rights laws.
However, it found that calling Campbell “scum” and “toxic” amounted to a “gratuitous personal attack” and that she had contravened rules on courtesy and respect.
In a statement, the Standards Commission said: “The panel noted that Cllr Joji had accepted that her conduct amounted to a breach of the respect provisions of the Code.
“The panel also noted Cllr Joji had been the subject of abuse herself, and was satisfied that while her comments had been entirely inappropriate, it was apparent that she had been attempting to stand against what she perceived to be bullying and harassment of individuals from ethnic minorities in politics.
“In the circumstances, therefore, the panel concluded that a censure, being the least restrictive option available to it, was the appropriate sanction.”
O’Hara stated: “The Standards Commission considers that councillors should be able to express their views and opinions without resorting to personal abuse.”