A police officer has been sacked for allegedly starting a Twitter account criticising his force and calling bosses “lower than slime”.
Tony Ryan, 33, is said to have sent more than 800 tweets from @TheBritishCop – including labelling his officials ”scum”.
Ryan always denied the Twitter site was his – but his seniors matched his tweets with his duties and ruled it must have been his.
He was dismissed for gross misconduct after a disciplinary panel decided on the ‘balance of probability’ he was the anonymous officer.
Ryan allegedly called professional standards officers “lower than slime” and “scum” and said bosses treated “hard-working staff like garbage”.
In 800 tweets between March and October last year they slammed officers in Bristol and described management and resources as “so bad”.
Investigators could not directly attribute the posts to him but claimed they matched his “intimate knowledge”.
But Tony, who has been with Avon and Somerset force for ten years, is adamant he has nothing to do with the account and has been “hung out to dry” by an online impostor.
He said: “My reaction is simply disbelief. I am, and always have been, 100 per cent innocent of this garbage and tried to conduct myself with dignity through the whole process.
“@TheBritishCop on Twitter has allowed them to hang me out to dry. Whoever they are can do what they like and get away with it, because I am their scapegoat.”
Tony was first accused of being behind the messages in October when officers from the professional standards department (PSD) presented him with print outs of the tweets.
He offered up his mobile phone, computers and email account to investigators to prove he was innocent – but the standards board did not take him up on the offer.
Instead an investigation was carried out by the force who ruled the tweets matched Tony’s personal and professional experiences.
They said he was responsible for “persistent undermining through social media of the leadership and function of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, so as to undermine confidence in the police”.
The panel concluded: “We considered there to be sufficient strong indicators of the identity of @TheBritishCop to be PC Tony Ryan, supported by the weight of more general indicators of the identity as an officer with intimate knowledge of Avon and Somerset.”
The decision came despite a tweet from @TheBritishCop to deny they are even employed by Avon and Somerset Constabulary.
They tweeted: “I know many Avon and Somerset and Devon and Cornwall officers, as well as a couple of Gloucestershire police officers.
“What they’ve done to the officer in A&S is a disgrace. They will no doubt do the same to me if I go public.”
Chief Inspector Kevan Rowlands, the deputy head of PSD, said: “Our attention was drawn to inappropriate and offensive comments being made on social media between March and October last year, which were suspected to have been posted by a serving police officer.
“Following an internal investigation, a misconduct hearing was held. As a result, the officer was dismissed.”
He said tweeting officers have to adhere to a code of ethics and added: “We will not tolerate any offensive or inappropriate comments being made on social media by our staff – whether at work or outside. This will result in us looking into the matter and may result in criminal action or possible misconduct enquiries.”
Tony is going to take his case to the Police Appeal Tribunal.
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