Furious Angus residents have launched a petition calling for a councillor to resign after he was exposed as a vitriolic Twitter troll.
Flatpack Democracy Angus, a community Facebook group that regularly scrutinises the work of Angus Council, said councillor Derek Wann should stand down after he admitted he was behind the (Lady Whistledown) AngusFreeofSNP account last week.
In the Change.org petition, the group says the Arbroath East Conservative member, who receives £6000 a year to chair the local authority’s education committee, was undermining the efforts of hard-working council employees.
A statement included with the request said of Wann: “He has made disparaging remarks about female politicians, tragic circumstances and local towns in Angus.
“This online bully has represented children and learning and through his unwholly behaviour and gross misconduct has single handedly made a mockery of the good work done by others.”
Under the Lady Whistledown monicker – named after the nom de plume used by the anonymous gossip writer in Netflix costume drama Bridgerton – he berated local and national political opponents and members of the public.
Among other posts, he referred to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as the “Bute House Gollum” and made disparaging remarks about towns within Angus.
Wann exposed himself as the operator of the account after publishing a link to an Angus Council press release in which he was quoted, captioning the post: “My comments.”
He then sought to cover his tracks by linking to another press release that quoted another councillor, attaching the same caption, and initially denied he was behind the posts.
After his mobile phone number was linked to the account, Wann admitted he was behind it telling The Courier newspaper: “I apologise sincerely for how I have handled this matter. My actions were unacceptable.”
He is yet to respond to a further request for comment.
However, the councillor has been accused of hypocrisy given his public persona as a proactive anti-bullying campaigner.
As children and learning convener he backed a council-led anti-bullying campaign, Angus ThinkB4UType, and said of one school incident: “There is no excuse for bullying and it should not be tolerated.”
Jill Scott, chair of Brechin Community Council, is among those who personally received abusive tweets from Wann as he hid behind the anonymous account.
She said: “For every moment that he tries to stay, both Derek Wann and David Fairweather’s judgement are in doubt. Any credibility that Derek Wann had is now gone and David’s is on the line if he makes any decision other than to remove him from the administration.
“In my opinion, the real Derek Wann was the content shared on Lady Whistledown – it is his public profiles and image that are fake.
“The tweets on this profile were callous and showed no concern for anyone’s mental well-being including myself.
“The people of Brechin have every right to be concerned at the prejudice from a senior councillor, who sits in cabinet with influence, making decisions that shape Angus.”
The Scottish Conservatives have since launched an investigation into Wann’s conduct, though leader Douglas Ross is yet to comment publicly on the councillor’s actions, or respond to calls from opponents to kick him out of the party.
Council leader David Fairweather – who followed the Lady Whistledown account and responded to many of its posts – has not taken any action to date.
Instead, the Independent said a “conversation” had been held with Wann, and will not be drawn on whether he plans to remove him from the administration.
Asked to meet with the Angus local democracy reporter to discuss the situation further, Fairweather said: “I am not available to meet you at any time.”
Story by local democracy reporter Jon Brady