Posted: Mon 19th Oct 2020

‘Nobody in any job deserves to have to endure abuse’: MP hits back over offensive comments on Facebook

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Oct 19th, 2020

A Flintshire MP has hit back after receiving a flurry of abuse on Facebook, warning he will ban anyone engaging in insulting behaviour from his page.

Delyn representative Rob Roberts revealed at the weekend that he had been receiving an increasing number of insulting messages on social media, as well as e-mails and phone calls.

Many people voiced their support for the Conservative MP, who pulled off a shock victory in last year’s general election, after he spoke out about the issue.

However, others drew attention to his own behaviour online with WhatsApp messages he allegedly sent to a young female intern and a male Parliament worker currently being investigated by the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

Mr Roberts apologised after his conduct was described as “completely unacceptable” by the Tory Party, which confirmed he was undergoing training in social media.

 

The 41-year-old deactivated both his parliamentary Twitter and Facebook accounts after the allegations were brought to light in July.

While he has stayed off Twitter, Mr Roberts reinstated his Facebook page to update constituents on his work.

He has now vowed to protect his staff from any further hostile behaviour from members of the public.

In a post shared on his account on Saturday, October 17, he said: “Social media can be so useful to keep residents updated on what I’m working on for Delyn and the wider national picture.

“But nobody in any job or career deserves to have to endure abuse, nastiness or any sort of hostile behaviour.

“Sadly that’s what I’m seeing an increase of on this page. I have done and will continue to ban individuals from this page who undertake this behaviour.

“If you need genuine help as a constituent, you can email or phone and I will do all I can to help, as I have with the hundreds of enquiries that come through my office every week from constituents since I was elected.

“But let me be even clearer, I will be steadfast in protecting myself and my team from anyone who believes it acceptable to send abusive or unnecessarily rude and hostile messages, emails or to make such phone calls.

“They are an exceptional group of young men and women, working so hard for our communities, and do not deserve to feel that they or their employer are under attack in their workplace.”

A number of Facebook users expressed their backing for Mr Roberts’ stance after he opened up about the recent spate of abuse.

Writing under his post, Maureen Walker said: “Nobody should be abused in any way, manners cost nothing and whichever party people like there is no excuse for bullying.”

Others pointed to his own actions on social media after he previously attracted criticism for blocking constituents on Twitter.

He also entered into a spat with Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan over the UK Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Roland Brady was among those who accused him of acting disrespectfully online.

He said: “I posted a comment about the privatisation of the NHS and you replied with a laughing emoji and then said shame on me for condemning that, I wasn’t rude or personal.

“I like many other of your constituents are deeply worried about the future and that our government hasn’t got any idea on how to find a way forward for fighting Covid-19, Brexit, NHS, education, jobs etc and with respect you come across as having contempt for the very people you chose to work for and get paid by.”

However, Mr Roberts stood by his use of the emoji in his response.

He said: “It was an amusing comment as it perpetuates the laughably false narrative about the NHS being sold. Again.”

 

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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