A Tory councillor who suggested an alleged rape victim in Plumstead was likely to have been a prostitute has escaped punishment.
Bromley Council decided not to sanction Shaun Slator after receiving 18 complaints against him over his comments on social media on New Year’s Eve.
Shaun Slator, who represents St Mary Cray ward, replied to a tweet from a news outlet about the alleged rape in Villas Road. In his reply, which he later deleted, Slator wrote: “More likely that it’s a punter that didn’t pay.”
A council report seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service argued that Slator, who now sits as an independent after being suspended by the Conservatives, was not acting in his capacity as a councillor when he made the comment.
The matter was brought to Bromley Council for investigation after 18 complaints and requests from both Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The report has not been published but the Local Democracy Reporting Service has obtained a copy from a source.
In the document, an independent investigator said they were “agonised” about their conclusion, but said that the matter would be better dealt with by his political party as Slator was not speaking as a councillor.
The investigator said: “Whatever our views of Councillor Slator’s tweet, he did make this disclaimer on his profile [that his views are personal] and made no specific reference to the council on the News Shopper site.”
Bromley’s monitoring officer – the council’s senior lawyer – decided there was no breach of the council’s code of conduct, meaning no further investigation would take place.
The report said: “It is appreciated that this view will perplex and disappoint some, if not all the complainants and other people. The finding in no way suggests that either the monitoring officer or the Independent Person endorse the behaviour of Councillor Slator. They do not.”
The complaints made to Bromley Council were summarised in the document, saying Slator’s comments were “derogatory, abusive and insulting”.
A Bromley source told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “There was cross-party agreement that the comments made by Slator were disgusting and should be condemned.
“If the interpretation of the council’s code of conduct means he is not subject to any sanction then it’s time to relook at that code.
“Whether he was using his personal Twitter account or not, his position as councillor is made clear on his Twitter profile. Failure to act will reflect badly on the reputation of Bromley Council and send a terrible message to women who are victims of violence.”
Slator used to live in the Plumstead area and regularly tweeted about local issues in Greenwich before moving to the neighbouring borough.
When approached by the Daily Mirror about his tweet, Slator said: “I’m not promoting rape, am I?” He later added: “I don’t know that she is or she isn’t [a prostitute], do you?”
Slator was approached for comment, but did not respond by time of publication.
Additional reporting by Darryl Chamberlain
Joe Coughlan is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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