A former SNP councillor has been found to have breached the Councillors’ Code of Conduct after using "entirely offensive and gratuitous" language on Twitter towards two members of the public. 

Gregor Murray, formerly a councillor for Dundee City Council, has been censured by a watchdog having also been found to have behaved disrespectfully towards a council official.

Murray had been Scotland's only transgender councillor and identifies as non-binary, which means they uses they/them pronouns and do not identify as a man or a woman. 

A hearing of the Standards Commission for Scotland today considered the comments and posts they had made on Twitter in March and April 2022, and towards a council officer in emails.

Paul Walker, Standards Commission Convener and Chair of the Hearing Panel, said: "In this case, the Panel considered former councillor Murray’s tweets, that were directed towards two members of the public, to be entirely offensive and gratuitous.

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“In addition, the Panel considered that former councillor Murray’s conduct, towards a council officer, was entirely inappropriate and unacceptable. 

"The Panel accepted that former councillor Murray was entitled to advise the officer that they no longer wished to have contact with him. 

"The Panel agreed, however, that they could have done so in a respectful manner, without referring to the officer’s assumed personal characteristics.”

At the hearing, held in Dundee, the Standards Commission’s Hearing Panel heard that it was not in dispute that former councillor Murray posted a comment on Twitter, in response to a tweet posted by a member of the public, that stated: “with absolutely no respect whatsoever, get to f*ck, TERF”. 

The Panel heard there was also no dispute that former councillor Murray referred to another member of the public as a “c*nt” in a comment posted on Twitter on March 27, 2022.

The Panel heard that, having been advised in an email from a senior council officer that complaints about their Twitter posts had been made, Murray replied by stating that the council officer should “Go and tell someone who gives a f*ck”, adding “for the avoidance of doubt, this does not include myself”.

They also wrote: “If I ever wanted to hear from more extremely overpaid, over privileged, cishet white men in politics, who actively work to exclude marginalised communities, I have absolutely no shortage to choose from.”

The Councillors’ Code of Conduct requires councillors to treat colleagues, council officers and members of the public with courtesy and respect.

Murray told the hearing that they believed comments from the members of the public had been transphobic.

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However, the panel found that, even if this was a genuinely held belief, it did not mean Murray was entitled to direct profanities and derogatory terms towards them in a public forum and "they could have expressed their views and opinions, without resorting to profanities and personal abuse."

Findings from the panel said it "agreed that not only did the [council] officer have every right to contact former Cllr Murray to advise them that complaints about them had been received, it was also fair and courteous for him to have done so. 

"The Panel was satisfied that the officer’s emails were entirely professional and respectful, both in tone and content, and considered that former councillor Murray’s replies were entirely inappropriate and disrespectful."

It added: "The Panel noted that it was not in dispute that former councillor Murray had made reference in their response to their assumptions about the officer’s personal characteristics, including his race, gender identity and sexual orientation. 

"The Panel was satisfied that former councillor Murray was indicating that their refusal to engage was based, at least in part, on their assumptions about these characteristics."

The panel held that Murray had contravened the provision in the Code that states that councillors must not discriminate unlawfully on the basis of the various protected characteristics, under the Equality Act 2010, which include race, sex and sexual orientation.

Hearing findings went on to state that Murray had shown no remorse or demonstrated any understanding or insight into the impact of their conduct on other people. 

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The panel said it would have imposed a "lengthy suspension" as an appropriate sanction but could not because Murray is no longer a councillor.

It therefore censured Murray. 

Mr Walker added: “The Standards Commission considers that councillors should be able to express their views and opinions without resorting to profanities and personal abuse.”

Murray previously appeared before the Standards Commission in after making remarks on Twitter to a member of the public that the panel found "disrespectful" and amounting to "harassment".

However, on consideration of the former SNP politician's freedom of expression, the hearing ruled a formal finding of a breach of the code of conduct and imposition of sanction “could not be justified”.

Murray was also previously embroiled in an internal SNP dispute following a complaint from SNP MSP Joan McAlpine following abuse she said she received on Twitter.