I think it’s safe to say that Scientology is stupid.
Jul 20 2010 by David James, Western Mail
A COUNCILLOR is facing a disciplinary hearing after calling the Church of Scientology “stupid” in a post on the Twitter website.
Wales’ public standards watchdog said John Dixon is likely to have breached the code of conduct for local authority members with his short message last year.
The Church of Scientology, whose followers include entertainers Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirsty Allie, made an official complaint after spotting the posting last year.
The church, created by American science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in the 1950s, has a reputation for being fiercely litigious and has been accused in the US courts of trying to use the legal system to destroy critics.
Mr Dixon, who is Cardiff council’s executive member for health and social services, as well as being a web developer and microbiologist, is contesting the complaint saying he was writing in a personal capacity.
He posted the message on his Twitter account, then called CllrJohnDixon, when he was in London last year buying his wife-to-be a wedding ring.
It said: “I didn’t know the Scientologists had a church on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off.”
In a follow-up comment after the Scientologists registered to receive all his Twitter posts, he posted: “Just realised the Scientologists are following me. Quick everyone, pretend you’re out.”
Mr Dixon did not want to comment yesterday and said he would make a statement after the disciplinary process is completed.
He has since changed his name on the Twitter website to JohnLDixon to emphasise he is posting in a private capacity.
The complaint was made to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales in December last year, nearly six months after the messages were posted on Twitter.
The church alleged the messages impinged on the right to religious freedom and were being made in an official capacity, given the name CllrJohnDixon.
Ombudsman Peter Tyndall has issued a summary judgement in which he found there is likely to have been a breach of the code of conduct and referred the complaint to Cardiff council’s Standards and Ethics Committee.
It is one of the more serious of the four options open to the Ombudsman if he investigates a complaint, which are: to find there is no evidence; to uphold the complaint and take no action; to uphold the complaint and refer it to the relevant council’s standards committee; or in the most serious cases to refer the finding to the adjudication panel for Wales.
No date has yet been set for the committee to hear the complaint against Mr Dixon.
It is the fourth complaint against a Cardiff councillor that has been upheld over the past year from 14 complaints made by members of the public and one complaint by a councillor.
These include deputy leader Neil McEvoy being found to have breached the code of conduct by calling a member of the public a liar at a Pact meeting.
Cardiff’s former Labour group leader Ralph Cook is also facing a hearing of the adjudication panel for Wales after Jewish council leader Rodney Berman complained that the Labour councillor had twice used Nazi-era language as an insult towards him.
The Church of Scientology did not reply to requests for a comment yesterday.
A spokeswoman for the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales said that Mr Tyndall’s decision would not become a matter of public record until it was used as evidence for the standards and ethics committee meeting.