Councillor faces formal complaint over Facebook 'fatty' slurs
- Credit: Archant
A St Albans councillor is facing a formal standards complaint after he abused a member of the public on social media.
Cllr Clare has publicly apologised after sending messages to businessman Gels Picciuto, calling him “fatty” and a “pr**k”.
Cllr Clare said he was keen to amicably resolve the situation, but Mr Picciuto has filed paperwork with the council requesting a formal standards investigation and hearing.
“It’s just hideous behaviour,” said Mr Picciuto, who has run restaurants and other catering services in St Albans for decades.
"This man is supposed to represent the public - and a charitable foundation."
Cllr Clare is the co-founder of Ask For Clive, an initiative to tackle homophobic and transphobic abuse.
Mr Picciuto said he believed Cllr Clare had been acting in his capacity as a councillor, as the dispute had kicked off in a Facebook thread where Cllr Clare was defending the council’s planned changes to the Charter Market.
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Mr Picciuto had published a post in support of traders who are unhappy about plans to ditch traditional stalls and replace them with gazebos.
In the thread, Cllr Clare called Mr Picciuto “a nasty b**tard”.
He then sent the businessman a series of abusive private messages.
The first said, “You are such a pr**k.”
He followed it up with “Hey Fatty. X.”
Then he added: “It must be tough being the biggest pr**k here!”
Cllr Clare told the Herts Ad he had previously been a regular customer at Mr Picciuto’s Smokehouse Deli, but their relationship had soured after he “gave some unwelcome informal advice relating to COVID regulations”.
He said of the Facebook messages: “I said them, I regret them, and while the comments were partially related to previous ‘banter’ between us, I really didn’t mean them and apologise to anyone offended by them, as I have apologised to Gels."
He insisted his comments were sent “entirely in my capacity as an individual, not a councillor” - which, if council officials agree, would result in Mr Picciuto’s complaint being thrown out.
“I snapped last week and said things I shouldn’t have said and didn’t mean,” he said.
“More than once, I have offered to sit down with Gels and resolve our differences so that we can move forward positively.
“That has been my preferred solution all along and I believe it would create a better environment for us all.”