Scottish Independence Debate / Wills accuses Cleaver of attacking free speech

North Isles councillor Gary Cleaver is unhappy about Jonathan Wills speaking publicly on the referendum.

LERWICK councillor Jonathan Wills has hit back after one of his colleagues suggested he should be censured for publicly voicing his opinion on the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence.

On Friday North Isles councillor Gary Cleaver emailed the other 21 elected members asking why Wills was “insistent on commenting publicly upon this issue”.

“Am I right in thinking that it is council policy to stay neutral in the upcoming independence referendum and the debate that precedes it?” he asked colleagues.

Cleaver went on to ask whether a “robust public censuring of the errant doctor by our leadership” would follow.

Wills, who is openly in favour of Scotland becoming independent, said he found the message “astonishing” and “an outrageous attack on my independence and right to free speech”.

Council leader Gary Robinson, while striving to take advantage of the constitutional debate to secure greater autonomy for the islands, has been clear that the local authority will not take a unified position on Scottish independence.


However there has been no suggestion that individual councillors should feel inhibited from expressing their personal political views on the issue.

Wills said: “I have contributed to political debate in this community for over 40 years and intend to continue to express my opinions on public affairs for as long as I have breath.

“When I am representing the council in an official capacity I express its official views. When acting in a private capacity I give my personal views.”

In response Cleaver called into question the “efficacy” of Wills’ decision to share the exchange with the local media, adding that “at the heart of the principal [sic] of free speech is the right of others to be able to say shut up!”

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