Council in ‘spy’ row over dad’s Tweets

South Ribble Council Civic Centre, Leyland
South Ribble Council Civic Centre, Leyland
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South Ribble Council has been accused of “snooping” on the father of an autistic boy assaulted by a taxi driver.

The dad was shocked to receive 400 pages of internal council communication about him in response to a Data Protection Act request. The dossier showed officers’ time was spent scrutinising the man’s Twitter account.

He has been vocal in questioning failings of the taxi licensing department, which allowed the driver in his son’s case to retain his licence despite a court conviction. He also published links to articles regarding a council officer.

He claims he took to Twitter in frustration at a lack of response from formal avenues of communication.

The council admitted checking Twitter and instructing lawyers to issue a ‘cease and desist’ letter, but said it was over concerns over “agressive, defamatory tweets”, many personal and not related to the boy’s case.

The father said was frightened at “heavy handed” council action. He said: “I never imagined it would come to this. I was tweeting to friends and wanted to advocate for other families who cannot advocate for themselves. All I did wrong was not realising retweeting is the same as tweeting.”

Council leader Peter Mullineaux said: “The council is always prepared to investigate any complaints – as we have done in this case – but is not prepared to accept any form of intimidation or harassment of its staff.”

He said the council has received external advice that it had done nothing wrong in reading the tweets directed at individual officers.

The father has lodged a complaint about the contents of the council report on him.